Those familiar with Whirlpool Corporation will recognize the Fettig name as the chairman and chief executive officer of the global leader in the manufacturing and marketing of quality home and commercial appliances.
The successful industrial executive is in town today for the eagerly anticipated, employee-focused dedication of the new 1-million-square-foot Whirlpool Cleveland Division plant on Benton Pike. Attendance at the festivity is by invitation only.
An official ribbon-cutting will be held at a later date.
Today’s historic celebration is not just the dedication of a LEED-certified, state-of-the-art factory.
It is a salute to a workforce that exceeds 1,500 employees — with more to come — and whose impressive work ethic is primarily responsible for the Whirlpool decision to rebuild in Cleveland.
It is a commitment to community. Whirlpool Corporation loves its growing partnership with our Bradley County hometown. The evidence is in the action. Whirlpool executives could have built a new manufacturing facility anywhere in the world, but they chose to remain in Cleveland and to invest $120 million in the new plant and a 400,000-square-foot Factory Distribution Center, the latter of which will open by year’s end on the same 120-acre campus.
It is an encouraging stand on behalf of U.S. manufacturing. At a time when many American industries are shutting down domestic operations in order to rebuild south of the border or overseas for cheaper labor rates, Whirlpool is staking a renewed claim in the production ideal called “American-made.”
It is a public statement, one that heralds belief in a better day and which takes a scornful approach to attitudes of conservative retreat during this fiscal calamity commonly known as The Great Recession.
It is a business conviction and a promise to family — not to the family of giant industry, but to the thousands of Cleveland and Bradley County households whose well-being is tied to direct and indirect jobs made possible by the presence of Whirlpool Cleveland Division and Whirlpool Cleveland Customer eXperience Center.
It is a message to the common man, one which strikes this agreement: Those who are willing to work, and to do it safely, are those who will be given the jobs that anchor the successful production of premium cooking products right here in Cleveland.
Today’s historic dedication was scheduled to begin with self-guided tours at noon. An hour later, the ceremonies were set to get under way featuring a keynote address by Fettig who will be joined at the podium by a pair of high-ranking Whirlpool executives — Marc Bitzer, president of Whirlpool North America Region, and Pam Klyn, general manager for Cooking Business, Whirlpool North America Region.
Also on hand to speak will be Richard “Dicky” Walters, Whirlpool Cleveland Division plant leader, and Freddie Wilke, a 12-year Whirlpool plant employee.
Special guests include Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis, United Way of Bradley County President and CEO Matt Ryerson and members of the Walker Valley High School band.
Whirlpool announced its intent to build a new Cleveland factory and FDC on Labor Day 2010. Groundbreaking ceremonies came three months later on Veterans Day even as heavy earth-moving machinery worked in the background. For the past 15 months, Gray Construction crews and subcontractors — most from Tennessee — have worked feverishly to complete the massive project.
The fruit of their labors takes center stage today.
We welcome our Whirlpool visitors to Bradley County.
We congratulate their successful, 100-year-old enterprise for this grand achievement!