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Town Fears Being Hung Out to Dry By Maytag Sale

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WSJ.com – (subscription required) | A free link here (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

The gist of this article is that Maytag Appliance is probably being bought out by an investment company (another article about that here). Folks in Iowa are very concerned about what that, or a foreign buyer, will mean to Newton, Iowa — the factory jobs and headquarters jobs.

But this small story below is illustrative of the inherent conflicts we face with manufacturing globalization — we want to benefit from cheap prices, even at the expense of our neighbors or our own jobs:

“The deal also will likely end Maytag's long resolve to keep nearly all of its manufacturing jobs in the U.S., a determination that contributed to the company's troubles and, arguably, to the current angst in Newton.

The town hasn't always helped itself. “People come in the door, and the first thing they want is cheap appliances,” says Marilyn Deppe, whose husband is Don of Don's Town & Country Appliances here. In addition to Maytag ranges and washers, the store carries televisions from Japan's Toshiba Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.'s Panasonic. Mr. Deppe says he has seen local Maytag plant workers opt for less expensive Amana brand washers — made by another Maytag division but not at the Newton plant. The Amanas run $100 to $150 less than the Newton-made Maytags, he says.”

This is like GM workers buying Kia's because they're cheaper. It's amazing to see that people would be so short sighted and not buy products made at their own plant. No wonder other Americans are choosing foreign branded or foreign made appliances and that Maytag is in some financial trouble.

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent book is an anthology titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

1 Comment
  1. […] for 2005! One of them, Maytag — Amana Refrigeration Products, Amana, Iowa, might be in the same circumstances as some other Maytag factories that face competition from lower cost countries. I hope they can use lean to stay competitive […]

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