OTTAWA - Corporate employees visited the Ottawa Whirlpool manufacturing plant in Ottawa last week to thank employees for the work they have done over the last two years with the changes that have been made within the facility.
Whirlpool recently announced it will spend over $1 billion to increase the U.S. manufacturing footprint and according to Jeff Noel, Corporate VP of Communications and Public Affairs the facility plans to stay in Ottawa for a long time.
The current facility in Ottawa, which was formerly WC Woods, has added a trash compactor line in addition to its freezer manufacturing lines. Noel said that over the last few years the company has made significant investments in the Ottawa facility in training, line restructuring and modest improvements. His visit last Thursday was to thank the employees for their commitment to the company and also for the innovative ways the employees had put towards the changes in the facility.
"I was shown areas where the line employees found ways to save time on the production line. Everything that I was shown came from the commitments of the people to be the best cost, best quality, best innovation for the products we make and the markets we serve. It is easy to do when you come from a great core, you have great leadership (in Ottawa) you have wonderful people working in the facility and that is what it's all about," he said. "In the end, it's the people that do it the right way and they do it with the values that we have with the company. Which are integrity, respect and commitment to diversion and the employees of Ottawa live it everyday."
According to Noel, two products manufactured by the Ottawa Whirlpool facility were featured in U.S. Consumer Magazine as best products in 2011. The Whirlpool stand-up freezer and an Amana Freezer were the two products featured and Whirlpool corporation is proud that they came from Ottawa.
Noel spoke of the fact that other manufacturers have shipped jobs overseas. He stood proud that Whirlpool has always been dedicated to keeping jobs in America. "We have had some products that have gone (overseas) but it's been very small numbers," he said. "That shows that our commitment is that we really never left the U.S."
Noel cited that some companies ship jobs overseas to make a weaker product. He said those companies are not necessarily playing by the rules. According to Noel, Whirlpool has always played by the rules and because of that high standard of integrity, Whirlpool has won in the end. He compared it to a high school football game and said that if both teams play its hardest and adhere to the rules, the end result will be the best team winning.
"We thought it was important to let the employees know that we are going to make sure the world knows that Whirlpool Corporation that has never left the U.S." The U.S. manufacturing has always been a mainstay of our long term global strategy as we have been around for 101 years. If you have scale and efficiency and if you have great people, which we do, we can only make the best most innovative products in the world. We can compete head on with any company, anybody, anywhere. We welcome competition because we have the right people making the best most innovative products."
He said that over 80 percent of the products made by Whirlpool that are sold in the United States are made in the United States.
With Whirlpool having five facilities in Ohio, they are all here to stay. Noel said that the modest investments made prove that they are committed to Ottawa and the employees they serve.
Noel said that Whirlpool sees the United States as its basis for manufacturing as they put $7.4 billion per year towards operating its manufacturing facilities in the United States.
"We think that is a big number and we feel we need to share that with the world. We contribute that to the employees and the leadership we have in our facilities," said Noel.
While the Ottawa facility has over 320 employees, Whirlpool employs 22,000 people in the United States and over 66,000 employees worldwide.
Noel also spoke of the involvement Whirlpool has in the communities of which it houses its facilities. Being a big supporter of Habitat for Humanity, Whirlpool donates a stove and refrigerator to every Habitat home built in North America and has been doing this for the last 12 years. Locally, Ottawa's Whirlpool donates a freezer to every Habitat home built in Putnam County.
"That makes buying bulk foods when on sale and then storing safely for longer periods a real savings for the homeowner," he said.
Whirlpool is also a large contributor to United Way and encourages its employees to be active in its communities. "We find that our employees are the same people who sit on the boards, or who are the volunteer coaches or the school board. That's really where we find the best reward to our communities; is watching our employees give their time to some of the organizations they are involved. They add to the fabric of the community." he said.
"We are proud to be part of the community cause we think companies should be part of the communities," he said. "We have a 101 year track record of being engaged in the local communities."
In addition to Ottawa, Whirlpool has facilities throughout Ohio located in Findlay, Clyde, Marion and Greenville.