The Whirlpool Corporation will be celebrating its centenary on 11 November 2011. Its origins date back to 1911 when the Upton Machine Company in Benton Harbor, Michigan, produced its first electric motor-driven wringer washer. The company grew through mergers and acquisitions to become the Whirlpool Corporation as we know it. Today Whirlpool is the world’s leading manufacturer of major domestic appliances, selling an appliance somewhere in the world every second.
With a turnover of $17billion, the company operates in 170 countries worldwide, employing 67,000 people, 12.500 in Europe. On the European continent Whirlpool has 13 factories and research centres.
The company has acquired several brands along the way including KitchenAid in 1956 and Maytag in 2006. In 1989, Whirlpool entered the European market in a joint venture with the home appliances division of the Dutch brand Philips, and in 1993 the Philips Whirlpool brand became Whirlpool.
Innovation accounts for 20% of the turnover in Europe and it has played a major part in making Whirlpool the global brand leader it is today.
“Innovation is really at the heart of our business, and we have invested over $1BN in research and development over the past 100 years. It is this commitment which has led to the introduction of products and technologies, such as 6th Sense Intelligent technology, Crisp patented microwave technology and more recently the new generation of stylish microwave ovens, the Max 35 and 38, and our most resource-saving yet, the Green Generation range. In addition, we have brought to market a phenomenal range of new laundry appliances, refrigeration, dishwashers and an extremely comprehensive portfolio of built-in appliances,” Ian Railton, managing director of Whirlpool UK, told IER.
The Whirlpool Corporation is a domestic appliance industry leader with a global market share of over 10% (by sales volume), and is almost 50% larger than its nearest competitor, Bosch. The company is also the number one player in laundry and joint first in cooking.
“As leader in the industry, we have an in-depth understanding of consumer needs and that has always been the basis of our innovation power. Alongside product innovation Whirlpool is celebrating the principles of integrity, perseverance and social responsibility that have always guided the Corporation’s history to this day, says Ian.
“There is still much work to be done here in the UK, and to realise our potential, but with our strong brands and innovative product portfolio, together with a more capable and collaborative organisation than ever before, I do believe our future is very exciting”, concluded Mr Railton.
We will take a closer look at the Whirlpool centenary story in the October 2011 issue of IER.