BENTON HARBOR — Whirlpool Corp. is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a number of local events and recognition of employees throughout the world.
"From the company's earliest days, we were dedicated to improving the lives of our consumers, and it is as relevant today as it was 100 years ago," said Jeff Fettig, Whirlpool Corp. chairman and CEO. "'Every home ... everywhere. Improving lives one home, one family at a time.' It's a simple phrase, but it holds deep meaning. We are a part of consumers' lives; we are there for the important moments, large and small, by bringing unique solutions to every home, every family ... everywhere."
Whirlpool noted some key milestones during its 100-year history:
1911 – The Upton Machine Company is founded to produce electric motor-driven wringer washers.
1929 – Growing demand requires the Upton Machine Company to merge with Nineteen Hundred Washer Company. The new firm is called The Nineteen Hundred Corporation.
1948 – The Nineteen Hundred Corporation successfully launches the first Whirlpool brand name automatic washing machine.
1950 – The company is renamed Whirlpool Corporation; automatic dryers added to product line.
1967 – The company launches the 24-hour Cool Line customer service help line, the first toll-free support program in the United States.
1969 – Elisha "Bud" Gray, chairman and CEO, and John Platts, president, write a letter on sustainability to shareholders, articulating the company's need to engage in social issues, including reducing the human impact on the environment. Gray then defines a new sustainability-centered business model.
1975 – Whirlpool plays key role in crafting U.S. Energy Policy and Conservation Act.
1986 – Whirlpool purchases the iconic KitchenAid brand.
1998 – Whirlpool begins its long-standing support of the Boys & Girls Club of Benton Harbor.
1999 – Whirlpool initiates partnership with Habitat for Humanity International – donating product and engaging employees around the world to volunteer and help families in 22 countries to obtain affordable housing.
2003 – Whirlpool Corp. becomes the world's