Appliance maker Whirlpool Corporation announced that it invested approximately U.S. $250 million in its North American manufacturing base in 2005.
The investment includes the construction of a new refrigerator plant in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico that will produce side-by-side refrigerator/freezer models and employ 1,000 workers, effective in 2006.
According to Whirlpool, once the Ramos Arizpe facility is operational, approximately 730 employees at Whirlpool's Fort Smith, Arkansas, U.S., plant would be part of a layoff, currently planned for October 2006, as some models currently manufactured in Fort Smith would be shifted to the new plant in Mexico.
Whirlpool anticipates that the majority of the layoffs will be voluntary and many of those employees would be recalled within 18 months, as part of the normal attrition rate at the Fort Smith facility. The Fort Smith plant currently employs about 4,600 workers, producing side-by-side refrigerator/freezer models, counter-depth refrigerators and trash compactors, as well as icemaker components.
Other investments Whirlpool made in the North American region in 2005 include: equipping and priming its Clyde, Ohio, U.S. manufacturing facility for the production of new, top-loading clothes washer models, preparing its Marion, Ohio, U.S. plant to manufacture new clothes dryer models, starting production new models and the Fast Fill water dispenser for refrigerators/freezers in its Fort Smith, Arkansas, U.S. plant, and starting production of a new front-loading clothes washer in its Monterrey, Mexico, facility.
"We continue to strengthen and extend our manufacturing base in North America, specifically in the U.S. and Mexico, to better improve our operating platform and to continue to remain competitive," said David L. Swift, executive vice president, North American Region. "In this highly competitive environment, it is imperative that Whirlpool looks for ways to continually improve its operating base."
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