It was reported a few minutes ago that the other shoe has indeed dropped and Whirlpool, which recently acquired the Maytag company, will close Maytag's facilities in Newton, Iowa, and lay off 4,500 worker bees. When the plant closes, presumably right after the mandatory 60 days, that will be the end of 113 years of Maytag manufacturing in Newton.
Maytag, which had fallen on hard times with a series of incompetent bumbler CEOs from Numbnuts staffing, put itself on the block last year. There were a couple offers, from a vulture capitalist operation and some interest from Haier, a Chinese company, but the offer for Maytag stock from Whirlpool knocked the competition out of the box.
One suspects that Ralph Hake, the latest Maytag CEO, was brought in, after all, to liquidate the place. The last straw had to be the Neptune line, which was a major flop in the very competitive market place for home laundry machinery.
On the other hand, Whirlpool is in the fight of its life if the goal is to continue making home appliances in the U.S. It's tough to compete with workers in the developing world, and the only way that Whirlpool has survived thus far is because of its relentless and unsympathetic pursuit of manufacturing efficiency. That fact alone made the demise of manufacturing in Newton a certainty.
Now. Don't get me wrong. I've never liked Newton and I always thought that the folks who held down the factory jobs at Maytag were smug, overpaid people who had no interest in looking at the reality of the world we live in. There was also very little sympathy for the worker bees who lost their jobs in Illinois when Maytag closed its refrigerator plant there last year.
The takehome has to be, what goes around sure as hell comes around.
Having said all that, to a small prairie state like Iowa and a small county seat town like Newton, this represents a hard blow that is going to take a long time to recover from, if ever.