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Whirlpool Picks Up the Pace at KitchenAid Plant

Whirlpool Corp. is pushing ahead with hiring following a major expansion of its Greenville plant.

The company has been adding another 400 workers to increase the capacity. The Benton Harbor, Mich.-based company makes KitchenAid stand mixers and other small appliances at the plant for national and international markets.

From the July 6, 2016 edition of The Dayton Business Journal

By Tristan Navera, Senior Reporter

Whirlpool Corp. is pushing ahead with hiring following a major expansion of its Greenville plant.

The company has been adding another 400 workers to increase the capacity. The Benton Harbor, Mich.-based company makes KitchenAid stand mixers and other small appliances at the plant for national and international markets.

Whirlpool cut the ribbon on the $40 million, 218,000-square-foot plant expansion in May. And officials say the hiring, which will continue through 2018, is only an incremental step in its continued national growth.

"We're in a pretty steep growth pattern," said Ken Hossler, plant leader for Whirlpool, adding the company is seeking applicants from Indiana through Dayton. "We recruit all over but even as far as we go it can still be difficult to find people."

Whirlpool now has 1,200 employees at its two big facilities in the county, with another 200 to be hired, according to Partnering for Progess, Darke County's economic development group. It is, by a wide margin, the largest employer in the county.

The company has used a hiring agency to bring people aboard for three-month periods, and has also been hosting job fairs to help recruit people for the new positions, Hossler said. But workforce in the county, which is riding on a number of recent big job wins, has been tight.

About a third of the products built at Whirlpool's factory are shipped overseas from the distribution center across the street from the Greenville plant.

Whirlpool started the expansion in Greenville in 2014, two years after it beat out a Chinese competitor to make more mixer products. That year, it began installing an automation system. The expansion came as a third-party logistics study found this area would be the best place for Whirlpool to build a national distribution center.

At the time of its expansion in 2014, it was making 16,000 stand mixers a day, a number that had doubled in five years.

"We grew so fast that we weren't able to keep up with customer orders," Hossler said.

And, he hinted at the company's next big potential investment.

Whirlpool is working more with online direct sales and e-commerce, meaning ever more quick delivery times for its products into consumers' homes. Whirlpool uses general road transportation for most of its shipping and only some air shipping, he said.

The company has invested significantly in Ohio, where Hossler said the "gravity" for its business has fallen. The logistics advisor determined the best place for its operations based on its customer base has been the two-hour radius around Indianapolis, about an eight-hour drive from two-thirds of the North American population.

As a result the company has invested $1 billion in Ohio facilities since 2010, including at its washing machine production facility in Clyde and a KitchenAid Experience store in Greenville. Earlier this year it announced a $40 million project to expand its Findlay dishwasher plant.

"There will be a time when, based off of customer orders, that center of gravity will change in 2020 or 2021, to build another warehouse to supply the West Coast," Hossler said.

The company's KitchenAid expansion, coupled with the 327,000-square-foot warehouse across the street, have made it a community centerpiece, leaders said.

"KitchenAid is the stalwart in the community. We're very fortunate to have a strong manufacturing base," said Mike Bowers, mayor of Greenville.

Click Here to read the article in The Dayton Business Journal