11 May 2006

Death in the family

That's how it seems.

Every summer of my life as a child, my parents would pack us up in the car, drive up U.S. 63, and after seven hours of torture (first in a Nova, then in Celebrities), we'd land in Newton, Iowa, for our summer vacation visit with my dad's best friend's family.

Newton was idyllic. It was also Maytag. Maytag Park. Maytag Pool. Maytag museum. Dad's friend: engineer at Maytag.

Maytag died yesterday.

They'd been struggling for a while in the new, competitive marketplace. But they prided themselves on building and buying in America.

About three years ago, it became an annual question: Would my dad's friend be able to stay on long enough to get his pension? Layoffs abounded. For a while, it looked like he'd have to move to Chicago, when a CEO decided the way to profitability was to move the entire works to the Chi 'burbs.

Whirlpool bought them a few weeks ago, after a threat from a Chinese company. Two weeks ago, my dad's friend got a mannila envelope with an answer.

Today, the rest of Newton received an answer.

Maytag died today. Newton's in trouble.

Read about a very special place, one I spent time in every summer for 18 years.



CISSY said...

Yep. You know if a certain group of folks who like to go on and on about how American and patriotic they are actually took the time to BUY American, things like this wouldn't happen.

I knew it was coming. I went to the appliance store a few weeks ago, and was looking at a Maytag. The saleswoman said, "You might want to hold off on buying a Maytag. The company's sold, or being sold and we don't know what it will mean to service and quality."

I think we do.

Brad Simmons said...

This latest move surprised no one up here. They were either going to be bought by Whirlpool (and liquidated) or a Chinese company (and liquidated).

I know what you mean when you use the word "idyllic." My mom & dad used to drive through Iowa on the way from Omaha to visit our relatives in Illinois. Each time, we'd drive through Des Moines, and my mom would tell me, "Des Moines...that's where the Maytag repairman lives!" The company seemed a part and parcel of the state. You can still go to the Drake Diner and order a Maytag Blue Cheese Cheesburger!

The amazing thing is that, one by one, the manufacturing jobs in this country disappear, and it isn't even seen as a problem by our beloved administration. It isn't even on their radar! I feel like the frog who has been put in the pot set to slow boil. By the time the Republicans notice that there are no more heavy industrial jobs left in the U.S., it will be too late. I wonder then how workers at Wal-Mart will build the tanks and guns that they so love to deploy around the globe?