Read Whirlpool's Complete Statement on Closing the Fort Smith Plant

Whirlpool Corp. of Benton Harbor, Mich., said Thursday that it will close its manufacturing plant in Fort Smith, which employs 1,000 people.

Below is the company's full statement on the closure.

Whirlpool Announces Changes in its North American Manufacturing Fort Smith, Arkansas Plant to Close

BENTON HARBOR, Mich., October 27, 2011 - Whirlpool Corporation (NYSE: WHR) today announced changes to its North American manufacturing operations.  After a thorough study of its Global Operating Platform announced in August, the company will close its manufacturing facility in Fort Smith, Arkansas by mid-2012.  The closure will impact approximately 1000 active employees (90 salaried and 884 hourly).  In addition, there are approximately 800 employees on layoff from this facility.

This difficult but necessary announcement is being driven by a decrease in demand for the side-by-side refrigerator platforms that has resulted from the continued weakness in the global economy, and the aggressive pricing actions of global competitors - some of whose trade practices are currently under investigation by the U.S. government.

The decision to close this facility follows a comprehensive review of alternatives for product consolidation within the three product categories currently produced at the plant. 

"The employees at our Ft. Smith location are among the best you will find anywhere.  While Fort Smith certainly has produced top quality products consistent with our longstanding strategy, we have not been cost competitive due to the extremely low production volumes at the facility," said Al Holaday, vice president of integrated supply chain and quality.

All Fort Smith production will shift to existing North American sites to leverage the resources and excess capacity at those facilities. 

  • Production of trash compactors will shift to Ottawa, Ohio
  • Production of built-in refrigerators will shift to Amana, Iowa
  • Production of the reduced, declining volumes of side-by-side refrigerators will be accommodated within current excess capacity in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico where employment levels will remain flat to negative

Whirlpool is committed to helping the impacted employees and their families with the transition during the next several months. Conversations regarding transition assistance will begin immediately. The company is also working with local and state officials to help ensure that all available training resources are made available to affected employees.

About Whirlpool Corporation

Whirlpool Corporation is the world's leading manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances, with annual sales of more than $18 billion in 2010, 71,000 employees, and 66 manufacturing and technology research centers around the world. The company markets Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Amana, Brastemp, Consul, Bauknecht and other major brand names to consumers in nearly every country around the world. Additional information about the company can be found at http://www.whirlpoolcorp.com.