It is hard to imagine washing your clothing by hand, wringing it out through a special device and hanging it on a line until dry. After all, most people in the modern world tend to have ready access to laundry machines in their homes or at "Laundromats". However, the creation of the now globally recognized brand, Whirlpool, came about because people were indeed still handling laundry the "old fashioned" way.
It was in 1911 when two brothers created what would one day become the Whirlpool name. Their Upton Machine was established to produce electrically powered washing machines. Their first customer was Federal Electric, and the success of this first sale helped them to establish the firm.
Sears & Roebuck was the next big buyer, and they served as early distributors of Upton machines. A merger soon occurred, and in 1929 the new company known as the Nineteen Hundred Corporation was established.
However, within less than two decades, this firm would be forced to convert its facilities, following the outbreak of WWII. From 1942 to 1946, the Nineteen Hundred Corporation's different factories were used purely for war production. After that, it got back to work, and in 1949 it created its first top-loading design. This was marketed as a Sears' label, but the technology really swept the industry.
Only one year later the firm was renamed Whirlpool and began marketing its own top-loading machines. Within only five years' time, the company began to explore other lines and was making air conditioners, stoves, and more. A lot of acquisitions also occurred during this period with whirlpool buying Seeger Refrigerator, a few of RCA's divisions, and the entire appliance line from International Harvester.
By 1968 the company had already sold more than one billion dollars in merchandise, and would double that amount in the next decade. The firm would add KitchenAid to its line up and partner up with or acquire rights to other top of the line electronics brands such as Philips, Roper, and Embraco.
By 2004, Whirlpool had earned more than thirteen billion, and was actively seeking to acquire the Maytag Corp (one of its only true competitors). This acquisition was approved, and Whirlpool was able to take on such famous brands as Hoover, Jenn-Air, Maytag, Amana, and more. Over the next ten years the firm would celebrate its centennial, expand operations and ownership into China and invest further in European markets.
Today, the company is the owner of many major global brands, as well as manufacturing for other brands (such as Kenmore, IKEA, Crosely, and more). It employs a staggering 69,000 people and is headquartered in Michigan.
Its emphasis remains on innovation, and there are 59 manufacturing and research facilities around the globe. Their major brands are Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Amana, Brastemp, Gladiator, Consul and Bauknecht, though they also produce and market other brands under their ownership.
Their portfolio of products is enormous and includes everything from countertop blenders and kitchen appliances to laundry machines and even commercial equipment.
The company has consistently garnered industry recognition and awards, and in 2011 it was named as the World's Most Admired Company by Fortune Magazine. Forbes listed it as one of the top Most Respectable Firms for three years in a row. It has received many honors for its corporate responsibility initiatives, and its charitable giving and diversity constantly earn it global recognition as "best employer".
Diversity and Charity
As a firm with almost 70k employees it benefits Whirlpool to be respectful towards diversity. The company has seven employee-operated diversity initiatives that ensure that employee needs are represented. These include a woman's network, Native American network, a Pride network, an Asian Community, an African American network, a Young Professionals group, and a Hispanic network.
The company also began the Whirlpool Foundation early in its existence, and today that commitment to community remains. They are a major supporter of the Habitat for Humanity organization and contribute tens of thousands of appliances every year. The company also contributes to works projects in all parts of the world and donates to relief efforts such as that done after Hurricane Katrina.
It can be easy for a massive global entity to lose perspective, but Whirlpool began with awareness and continues to use it. Developing high quality products all while providing employees with the best conditions possible, it is a solid brand with a sterling reputation.
WhirlpoolCorp. About Overview. WhirlpoolCorp.com. 2014.