Whirlpool hammers down

Grant to build Habitat home in Blythe area

By RICK NORTON rick.norton@clevelandbanner.com
Posted 6/5/17

A longstanding partnership between Whirlpool Corporation and Habitat for Humanity International continues to build homes and hope around the world, and this includes affordable housing in the …

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Whirlpool hammers down

Grant to build Habitat home in Blythe area


A longstanding partnership between Whirlpool Corporation and Habitat for Humanity International continues to build homes and hope around the world, and this includes affordable housing in the Cleveland and Bradley County community.

As part of its mission, and an ongoing company commitment to its home communities, Whirlpool makes it a practice to invest time, resources and energy to local Habitat affiliates. As Bradley County’s largest employer, Whirlpool boasts two operations here: Whirlpool Cleveland Division, which is the manufacturing plant on Benton Pike, and Whirlpool Cleveland Customer eXperience Center, the call center located on 20th Street.

Recently, Whirlpool announced a $90,000 grant to be given to Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland which will be used to fully fund the construction of a new home in the Blythe Oldfield area of the city.

“The need for decent homes in the Cleveland and Bradley County community is great, much greater than most people know,” said Chip Willis, executive director of the local Habitat affiliate.

Willis described Habitat and its humanitarian partners — like Whirlpool — as being people who “... help provide long-term impact, which changes families’ lives forever, often breaking the cycle of unsafe living conditions and creating opportunities for success.”

Habitat families work alongside employee volunteers — whether it’s Whirlpool or any among a large number of Cleveland and Bradley County businesses that partner with Habitat — to build or improve places that can truly be called “homes,” enabling those who inhabit them to build strength, stability and self-reliance, Willis said.

Willis credited Whirlpool for its longtime commitment to Habitat in general, and to Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland specifically.

“Whirlpool and Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland have enjoyed a longstanding partnership, both in monetary support, as well as volunteer participation,” Willis stressed. “The company has committed itself to helping revitalize the area around the site of the former Whirlpool manufacturing facility.”

He added, “This new grant will allow us to build a new home in the Blythe Oldfield neighborhood and contribute to the remarkable transformation currently taking place in that area.”

Willis pointed out the Whirlpool commitment to Habitat is not just about monetary investments or providing employees the opportunity to work with the respected nonprofit as volunteers. The company is also about furnishing the Habitat homes with quality Whirlpool appliances.

And in Cleveland, Whirlpool is taking the commitment to an even higher level by donating ranges to the two Habitat ReStores operated by the nonprofit here.

“We are very thankful for the new appliances and products the company always puts in these new Habitat homes each year, as well as the generous range donation from Whirlpool Corp. in Cleveland,” Willis said.

Both Cleveland-based Habitat ReStores — one located on the north end and the other on the southern end — were earlier supplied with 400 fully equipped electric ranges.

Willis offered, “... [There’s] only a few of them still in stock for ReStore customers to purchase at a discounted amount. Money spent in the North and South ReStores helps local families in need get one step closer to homeownership.”

In describing the partnership between Whirlpool and Habitat, the numbers tell the whole story. Over the past 17 years, Whirlpool Corp. has committed more than $101 million to Habitat for Humanity programs and affiliates in some 45 different countries.

In name, Whirlpool has been a part of Cleveland and Bradley County for 11 years. When the global company acquired the former Maytag Corp. in March 2006, the transaction included the local operations. Formerly known as Maytag Cleveland Cooking Products, the plant began operating as Whirlpool Cleveland Division.

The roots of the appliance manufacturer run deep in Bradley County. It all started in 1916 with the startup of the former Dixie Foundry factory. The name was later changed to Dixie Products, and later became known as Magic Chef Company after Dixie Products (Cleveland-based) purchased Magic Chef which was headquartered in St. Louis. The Magic Chef label was retained, but the corporate offices were relocated from St. Louis to here in Southeast Tennessee two years after the merger.

The manufacturer continued operating as Magic Chef until 1986 when it was acquired by the old Maytag Company. Four years earlier, Maytag had purchased the former Hardwick Stove Company in Cleveland. After Maytag’s purchase of Magic Chef, the local factory operated as Maytag Cleveland Cooking Products.

Twenty years later, in 2006, Whirlpool announced the acquisition of Maytag, the latter of which was struggling due to an increase in international competition in the appliance industry.

In 2010, Whirlpool announced plans to build a new manufacturing plant and warehouse in Cleveland on Benton Pike, not more than seven miles from the existing complex. Two years later, the new state-of-the-art plant opened. It continues to manufacture premium cooking products under several labels, among them Whirlpool, Maytag, Magic Chef, Amana and IKEA.

Even before its acquisition by Whirlpool, the local Maytag Cleveland Cooking Products plant and Maytag Customer Service Center (call center) had provided employee volunteers to build a Habitat for Humanity house on High Street. It was Maytag’s first experience at building a Habitat home in Cleveland, and the local partnership has continued to flourish now that local operations are owned and operated by Whirlpool Corp.


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