Whirlpool to shut two US refrigerator factories

By Chris Nicholls

MICHIGAN, USA: Whirlpool Corporation today announced it would close its LaVergne, Tennessee and Reynosa, Mexico refrigerator plants, following a review of the company’s facilities.

The closures followed a comprehensive study that looked at how to reduce costs in the refrigeration business. The company claimed all Whirlpool plants and product platforms worldwide undergo the same analysis on a regular basis.

Production of built-in refrigerators currently manufactured at the LaVergne factory will be moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas, while side-by-side refrigerator manufacturing at Reynosa will shift to the company’s Ramos Arizpe site in Mexico.

The closures will mean the loss of 500 jobs at LaVergne and 750 jobs at Reynosa. However, Whirlpool said it would add 275 jobs at the Fort Smith plant by the end of the year, while the Ramos Arizpe factory would gain another 600 or so workers by mid-year. 

According to a release, the shutdowns were part of “an ongoing, worldwide effort to optimise the company’s regional manufacturing facilities, supply base, product platforms and technology resources.”

However, the restructuring will also cost the company between US$15 – 20 million.

Whirlpool North America’s manufacturing vice president Al Holaday said the decision ensured the company would remain competitive in North America.

"These decisions, while difficult, are an important part of our overall operating plans, and will help ensure that we remain competitive in North America.

“The changes are in no way a reflection on our employees at either the LaVergne or Reynosa facilities, whose contributions we greatly appreciate."

The company will offer employees affected by the changes an unspecified severance package.

Whirlpool said it would work in coordination with labor unions to assist union employees during the transition.

A comment from Whirlpool Australia was unavailable by time of publication.

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