Whirlpool’s president for North American operations says the closures of Maytag operations in Newton will help Whirlpool be more competitive in the appliance industry.
“We made some decisions today that were very difficult but necessary,” David Swift, Whirlpool’s president for North American operations, said as he opened an early (Wednesday) afternoon news conference in Newton.
Production of the Maytag washers and dryers that come off the line in Newton will shift to Whirlpool plants in Ohio, and two other Maytag plants in Illinois and Arkansas will close as well. “It’s a story that we think is a very exciting story for Whirlpool going forward. It’s a very, very tough day for the communities that we’ve had to make the announcements in today,” Swift said. “I just want to emphasize this is not a story about employees in any way, shape or form underperforming. This is a story about an industry that’s incredibly competitive, one that required that we take very rapid action to try to go after efficiencies and that’s essentially what we’ve done today.”
Swift met with Maytag employees in small groups then had a “town meeting” to discuss the shut-down proceedures. He said Whirlpool will focus on severance packages, continuity of benefits and counseling for those who’re losing their jobs. “We expect there will be several (emotional issues) that we will have to deal with,” Swift said.
Swift called the incentives packages offered to Whirlpool by Newton and the state “outstanding” but not enough to keep operations open. “The reality is the competitiveness of this industry is so intense that the things that were potentially brought to the table were not going to be enough to help offset what we ultimately will achieve by moving our operations,” Swift said.
According to Swift, Iowa is “very important” to Whirlpool because of the remaining Amana plant it owns in Amana. “We have a very vibrant plant in Amana that’s a very successful, well-run plant. We expect to have significant business there going forward,” Swift said. “So it’s very important for us as a company to continue to have a very strong relationship with the state of Iowa and we believe we do.” About 2500 workers are employed at that Amana plant. The distribution center in North Liberty — where 100 people work — is to stay open, too.