Mary Fallin

Whirlpool plant in Tulsa adding 150 jobs

August 9, 2013
The Tulsa World
By ROBERT EVATT World Business Writer

Whirlpool Corp. announced Thursday it will add approximately 150 jobs at its Tulsa factory.

Additionally, the manufacturer said it will spend $18.8 million for capital improvements at the facility, located near U.S. 75 and 76th Street North in the Cherokee Industrial Park.

Whirlpool currently employs 850 people in Tulsa, down from a high of 1,200 five years ago. The plant chiefly manufactures cooking ranges, and the growth in employment was attributed to a new cooking product line that will be made in Tulsa.

The new jobs will mostly be in manufacturing and skilled labor, with a few salaried positions in support, Whirlpool said in a news release. The company did not disclose the salary range or what the capital improvements will entail.

Gov. Mary Fallin said she is excited that the company is expanding and creating jobs in Tulsa.

"Whirlpool's investment in Oklahoma is a great vote of confidence in the state's pro-business climate and its long-term economic outlook," she said in a statement. "My thanks go out to Whirlpool and its employees for continuing to be an important part of our Oklahoma community."

Jeff Durham, vice president of North America manufacturing for Benton Harbor, Mich.-based Whirlpool, said the growth is a result of strong government support.

"This announcement reflects our confidence that the Whirlpool Tulsa workforce can continue to deliver winning products in the marketplace," he said. "We are grateful for the strong support and partnership of our state and local officials that helped make this project a reality."

Mayor Dewey Bartlett said Whirlpool's expansion in Tulsa demonstrates the city's ability to cultivate successful companies.

"Tulsa continues to attract significant job creation and capital investment, and we are thrilled that Whirlpool has decided to expand its local operations," he said. "This announcement further highlights the business-friendly environment in Tulsa and shows that companies are growing and achieving great success here."

In its latest earnings report, Whirlpool said it recorded sales of $2.6 billion in North America during the last quarter, 5 percent higher than the same period last year.

Company officials predicted Whirlpool will generate free cash flow of $650 million to $700 million this year. New product innovations were among the company's announced priorities.

The Tulsa factory, at 7301 Whirlpool Drive, opened in 1996. Whirlpool's original $100 million plant spanned 573,000 square feet and later added 300,000 square feet in a $12 million expansion.

The plant's construction was partially funded from a sales tax approved by Tulsa County voters.

The company assumed ownership in 2005 after meeting a $250 million payroll commitment three years earlier than expected.

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