Careers at Whirlpool Corporation
Whirlpool’s mission is to create demand and earn trust every day.
Whirlpool is a provider of home appliances. The firm operates four reportable business segments based on geography: North America, Latin America, EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and Asia.
Louis Upton co-owned a machine shop with his uncle, Emory Upton. In 1908 he invested his savings in a small appliance dealership venture, but the company never got off the ground. The dealer compensated him with a patent for a manually-operated clothes washer. Louis then obtained an investment of $5,000, and along with his brother launched Upton Machine Company in 1911.
The firm obtained an electric motor and incorporated it into the clothes washer. It then began producing electric motor-driven wringer washers. Not long afterwards it obtained its first major order from the Federal Electric division of Commonwealth Edison. After discovering a defect in its machines, Upton replaced them, motivating the client to double its order from 100 to 200 washers.
After three years, Federal Electric began making its own washers. However, Upton rebounded in 1916 when it got an order for two types of wringer washers from Sears, Roebuck, and Co. Sales of its products through Sears’ catalog grew significantly before and after World War I. Despite this, Upton decided to launch its own brand of dryers so it would be less dependent on contracts.
In the 1920s Sears’ move into physical retailing led to greater demand, compelling Upton to increase its capacity. It responded by merging with the Nineteen Hundred Washer Company in 1929, and was renamed the Nineteen Hundred Corporation. This action enabled the firm to survive the Great Depression and World War II, when factories were forced to shift their focus to weapons.
After World War II the company introduced a complete line of laundry appliances, including including wringer and automatic clothes washers, electric and automatic clothes dryers, and irons. The line was called “Whirlpool“. In 1950 the company changed its name to Whirlpool Corporation. Over the next few decades it diversified greatly, becoming the world’s largest home appliance manufacturer.
Business model of Whirlpool Corporation
Whirlpool has a mass market business model, with no significant differentiation between customer segments. The company targets its offerings at all consumers who need home appliances.
Whirlpool offers two primary value propositions: innovation and brand/status.
The company has embraced innovation throughout its history. Its lists of firsts include the following:
- First electric wringer clothes washer
- First bottom freezer refrigerator
- First side-by-side refrigerator
- First space kitchen developed for the U.S. government
- First self-ventilated cooktop
- First countertop microwave oven
- First energy/water-efficient top load washer
- First large capacity front-load washer in the U.S.
- First top load laundry pair with a steam cycle
- First induction double oven freestanding range
- First 24-hour toll-free service support program
The company has established a powerful brand due to its success. It is the #1 major appliance manufacturer in the world, with $21 billion in revenues in 2015. It operates in over 170 countries and its products are found in over 97 million homes. It maintains a number of prominent and popular brands, including Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Maytag, Consul, Brastemp, and Indesit; each has generated annual sales in excess of $1 billion. Lastly, it has won many honors, including the following:
- Recognition as one of the Top 25 Most Reputable U.S. Companies by Forbes and Reputation Institute from 2008 to 2014
- Recognition as one of Fortune’s Most Admired Companies in the Home Equipment/Furnishings category four years in a row
- Recognition as part of the FTSE4Good Index Series every year since 2001
- Ranking on the Ocean Tomo 300 Patent Index every year since 2005
- Recognition in Newsweek’s Green Rankings every year since 2009
- Ranking on Corporate Responsibility’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens list 12 out of 15 years
- Ranking 13th globally on the 2014 Top Company for Leaders list by Aon Hewitt
- Ranking as one of Fast Company’s Top 50 Most Innovative Companies
- 2012 Silver Edison Best New Product Award – Whirlpool Ace
Whirlpool’s main channels are the retailers, manufacturers, and distributors who resell its products. The company promotes its offering through its social media pages and advertising.
Whirlpool’s relationship is primarily of a self-service nature. Customers utilize its products while having limited interaction with employees. That said, there is a personal assistance component in the form of phone and e-mail support.
There is also a co-creation component. The company’s website invites visitors to submit patented ideas for consideration as product introductions or enhancements.
Whirlpool’s business model entails designing, developing, and manufacturing its products for customers.
Whirlpool’s key partners are the suppliers who provide it with raw materials and major components for use in the manufacturing of its products. They are given access to a Supplier Portal through which they can view helpful resources. The company also heavily depends upon the retailers, manufacturers, and distributors who resell its products in their outlets.
Whirlpool’s main resources are its physical resources, which include its collection of 70 manufacturing and technology research centers worldwide and its 14 manufacturing plants (nine in the United States, five in Mexico). It also depends on human resources in the form of its engineers that design, develop, and manufacture its products.
Lastly, it places a high priority on its intellectual property, considering the trademarks, licenses, and patents it owns to be valuable assets.
Whirlpool has a cost-driven structure, aiming to minimize expenses through significant automation and low-price value propositions. Its biggest cost driver is cost of products sold, a variable expense. Other major drivers are in the areas of sales/marketing and administration, both fixed costs.
Whirlpool has two revenue streams:
- Product Revenues – Revenues it generates from sales of its products to consumers.
- Licensing Revenues – Revenues it generates from the royalties it receives from the licensing of its trademarks to third parties to manufacture, sell, and service certain products bearing the Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, and Amana brand names.
info: Jeff M. Fettig earned a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and an MBA at Indiana University. He previously held several executive positions at Whirlpool, including President, Chief Operating Officer, and President of Whirlpool Europe and Asia.
info: David Binkley earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business and HR Management and a graduate degree at Michigan State University. He previously served as Corporate VP, Global Human Resources and VP, Human Resources for North America at Whirlpool.
info: David Szczupak earned a Master's degree in Automotive Engineering from Cranfield University in the UK. He previously served as Chief Operating Officer of Dura Automotive Systems and held various leadership roles at Ford Motor Company.
info: Jim Peters earned a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Business Administration at the University of Kansas and an MBA in Finance at Indiana University. He previously served as VP, Corporate Controller, and Chief Accounting Officer of Whirlpool.
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