The Maytag Washing Machine Company was founded in 1893 by businessman Frederick Maytag. In 1925, the Maytag Washing Machine Company became Maytag, Inc. During the Great Depression
of the 1930s, the company was one of the few to actually make a profit in successive years. At his father's death in 1940, Fred Maytag II, grandson of the founder, took over the presidency. During World War II, the company participated in war production by making special components for military equipment. In 1946, production of washing machines was resumed; in 1949, the first automatic washers were produced in a new purpose-built plant. In 1946, Maytag began marketing a separate line of ranges and refrigerators made by other companies under the Maytag name. During the Korean War, the company again produced parts for military equipment, although washing-machine production continued.
During the 1950s, the 'white goods,' or laundry appliance industry grew rapidly. Maytag first entered the commercial laundry field at this time, manufacturing washers and dryers for commercial self-service laundries and commercial operators. In response, other full-line appliance producers began to compete with Maytag in the white-goods consumer market. These included 'full-line' manufacturers such as General Electric, Whirlpool, and Frigidaire, who built not only washing machines and dryers, but also refrigerators, stoves, and other appliances. Since Maytag was much smaller than the full-line producers, the company decided to limit itself to the manufacture of washers and dryers, alongside ovens and refrigerators built by other companies, as a niche-market, premium-brand manufacturer. The company capitalized on its reputation by renaming its corporate address in Newton, Iowa, "One Dependability Square."
By 1960, Maytag had ceased marketing ovens and refrigerators, but later began once again to expand into kitchen appliances with its own design of portable kitchen dishwasher and a line of food-waste disposers. Upon the death of Fred Maytag II, the last family member involved in the company's management, E. G. Higdon was named president of the company, with George M. Umbreit becoming chairman and CEO. By the late 1970s, over 70 percent of U.S. households were equipped with washers and dryers, and with approximately 18,000 employees worldwide, the company was established as a dominant manufacturer of large laundry appliances. After the company's acquisition of Magic Chef, Inc., in 1986, a move which nearly doubled its size, the company acquired a new corporate name, the Maytag Corporation.
In 1997, a Maytag engineering team, at Maytag Laundry Appliances Research and Development, developed the Maytag Neptune line of front-load washers. A matching dryer was introduced to accompany the new washer. The company claimed that the new Neptune model saved energy costs over traditional washer/dryer sets. Production of the Neptune line was later switched to Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd via rebranded Samsung machines. In 2001, the company acquired the Amana Corporation and its appliance assembly facilities. That same year, Ralph F. Hake became the last chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Maytag Corporation, serving in that post until March 2006. Once renowned as the standard for laundry appliances, by 2003 the company faced increasing competition from new appliance brands in the US market, as well as from existing appliance manufacturers who had outsourced production a decade earlier in order to reduce costs. While Maytag had begun the process of shifting appliance production to lower-cost assembly plants outside the United States, by 2004 the company still produced 88 percent of its products in older U.S.-based factories. In an apparent move away from traditional company marketing strategy, company management decided on a plan to stimulate consumer purchases of new Maytag appliances before their old ones had worn out.
Costs incurred in Maytag's acquisition and integration of Amana and an increased corporate debt load led to aggressive internal cost-cutting efforts in direct materials, manufacturing, and distribution costs. Maytag introduced a 'value' priced appliance line under a separate label, Performa by Maytag. To increase sales, the company also marketed Maytag-branded 'Legacy Series' washing machines that were otherwise identical to low-end Amana models, and built in the former Herrin, Illinois Amana assembly plant. The rebranded Maytag models, later termed Amanatags by dissatisfied owners, received poor customer reviews after reports surfaced of major mechanical and/or durability problems. The company also consolidated warehouse operations and cut the number of Maytag vendors. Between 2002 and 2004, Maytag corporate management cut new-product investment in half.
An increasing chorus of consumer complaints concerning product reliability and customer service, assisted by the rapid growth of internet consumer forums, began to affect the company's reputation with customers. The company was also slow to react to customer complaints regarding its flagship Neptune washer and dryer line (labeled the Stinkomatic by dissatisfied customers), resulting in further damage to the company's reputation and a $33.5 million set-aside to settle several class-action lawsuits arising from the Neptune problems. By 2005, Maytag's market share had declined to all-time lows, sales were flat, and customer satisfaction surveys ranked Maytag near the bottom of the appliance field.citation needed The problems with the Neptune line continued; in 2007, 250,000 Neptune washing machines became part of a nationwide safety recall by the Consumer Product Safety Commission due to fire danger.
On April 1, 2006, the Whirlpool Corp. completed its acquisition of Maytag Corporation. In May 2006, Whirlpool announced plans to close the former Maytag headquarters office in Newton, as well as laundry manufacturing plants in Newton, Iowa; Herrin, Illinois; and Searcy, Arkansas by 2007. Following the Maytag closure, all administration will be in Whirlpool's headquarters in Benton Harbor, Michigan. The Maytag name will still be used on rebranded Whirlpool appliances. Most Maytag employees were terminated, and some were offered jobs in Benton Harbor. The board of directors of Maytag all received five years' severance pay.citation needed Former chairman and CEO, Ralph F. Hake, received two years' base salary and two years' target bonus under his severance agreement.
|1893||Frederick Louis Maytag arrived in Iowa by covered wagon. F.L., his two brothers-in-law, and George W. Parsons each contributed $600 for a total of $2,400 to start a new farm implement company named Parsons Band-Cutter & Self Feeder Company. They produced threshing machines, band-cutters, and self-feeder attachments invented by Parsons.|
|1893||Threshing machine-related injuries were all too common, and a strong need for a safer threshing machine was present. The company successfully met this need by developing a threshing machine feeder, a device which fed straw more safely into the threshing cylinder.|
|1902||The company was the largest feeder manufacturer in the world, and, by 1904, the Ruth was the most popular model.|
|1905||Maytag introduced the Success Corn Husker and Shredder.|
|1907||Maytag's first washing machine, the "Pastime", was produced. F.L. Maytag decided to produce these machines during the periods of seasonally related downturns in farm-implement sales. The "Pastime" washers used a wooden tub. A dolly was turned by a hand crank via wooden pegs. This turning action would pull clothes through the water and force the clothes along the corrugated tub sides producing cleaning action. A pulley allowed the machine to be operated from an outside power source such as a tractor or a windmill.|
|1911||A model of the Pastime with an electric motor was unveiled.|
|1915||Maytag developed its Multi-Motor gasoline-engine washer. This allowed customers in rural areas without electricity to utilize the automatic washers.|
|1919||The first aluminum washer tub was produced by Maytag. Prior to this, it had been believed in the industry that aluminum tub washers could not be built. This aluminum tub proved to have numerous advantages over the wooden tub, which had issues with leaking and rotting.|
|1920||L. B. Maytag, son of the company's founder, began serving as company president.|
|1922||Howard Snyder invented the vaned agitator. The agitator is placed inside the tub and mounted in the bottom of the tub. The concept was that, instead of washboarding or dragging the clothes, they would be gently agitated. Maytag first introduced this new washer, the Gyrafoam, and became exclusively an appliance company.|
|1924||By 1924, one of every five washing machines were made by Maytag in Newton, IA.|
|1924||Maytag introduced its first iron.|
|1925||Maytag was listed on the New York Stock Exchange.|
|1926||The company was now headed by Elmer Henry Maytag, another son of F.L. Maytag.|
|1926||On October 12, five trainloads packed full with Maytag Washers were shipped out to the country. At this time, it was the world's largest single shipment of merchandise. Maytag broke its own record in May 1927, and shipped out eight trainloads.|
|1927||Maytag had produced over a million washers.|
|1929||Maytag realized earnings of $6,838,883, a pre-war high. Maytag also survived the Great Depression without having a loss for any year.|
|1934||Maytag begins production of Maytag Toy Racer automobiles on October 11.|
|1940||E. H. Maytag died and his son, Frederick Louis Maytag II (grandson of F.L. Maytag), became Maytag's head at the age of 29.|
|1941||Maytag Toy Racer production ends on December 1. During World War II Maytag no longer produced washing machines and instead concentrated on the war effort. From 1941 to 1945, Maytag made design improvements on, and manufactured special components for, military airplanes. These parts were used in sixteen different types of combat aircraft, including the B-29 Super Fortress, the B-17 Flying Fortress, B-26 Marauder, and the P-51 Mustang.|
|1946||The war ended and washing machine manufacturing was geared back up in Newton, IA. Maytag began selling ranges and refrigerators.|
|1948||Maytag's plant number two was opened in Newton, Iowa. This facility manufactured Maytag's first automatic washers, the "AMP", introduced that year. This was the start of a new age in washing machines for Maytag.|
|1951||The Korean War was underway, and Maytag built parts for tanks and other military equipment alongside the washing machines.|
|1953||Maytag introduced its first automatic dryer.|
|1954||Maytag's first television advertisement was aired.|
|1958||Maytag introduced the commercial coin-slide washers used in laundromats.|
|1961||Maytag's corporate headquarters building was dedicated.|
|1962||Upon the death of F. L. Maytag II, George M. Unibreit became chairman of the board and chief executive officer, and E.G. Higdon was named president. The company would never again be led by a Maytag family member.|
|1966||Maytag produced its first line of portable dishwashers. Additionally licensed its first Maytag home appliance center.|
|1967||Character actor Jesse White appears in the first "Maytag Repairman" TV commercial.|
|1972||Daniel L. Krumm succeeded E.G. Higdon as Maytag president and treasurer, and two years later he was named chief executive officer.|
|1975||Maytag introduced Maytag-equipped home style laundries.|
|1981||Maytag acquired Hardwick Stove Company.|
|1983||Maytag discontinued production of wringer washers, after 76 years.|
|1985||Maytag introduced the first-ever stacked washer/dryer.|
|1986||The Maytag Company became the Maytag Corporation. It acquired Magic Chef, and started selling a full line of appliances.|
|1987||Maytag Corporation added a line of front-loading commercial washers.|
|1989||Maytag acquired the Hoover Company.|
|1989||Gordon Jump of WKRP fame first appears as The Maytag Repairman.|
|1991||Maytag contracted with Montgomery Ward & Co. for the exclusive use of the Admiral brand (acquired in the Magic Chef acquisition) on its consumer electronic goods. (Admiral would later become exclusive to Home Depot after the Whirlpool Corporation purchased Maytag).|
|1992||Maytag began manufacturing of dishwashers in Jackson, Tennessee.|
|1994||Hoover introduced the first SteamVac extractors.|
|1997||Maytag introduced a high-efficiency washer, the Maytag Neptune.|
|2001||Maytag acquired Amana. Maytag relabels some Amana-built models with the 'Maytag' brand, selling them as Maytag products.|
|2002||A class-action lawsuit is filed against the company on behalf of Neptune washing machine consumers.|
|2004||Maytag Corporation announces a loss of $9 million dollars.|
|2005||Maytag became the subject of a takeover battle between a private investment group in the United States. (Ripplewood), a three party group comprised of Blackstone, Baird and Haier Corporation, a Chinese appliance manufacturer, and the Whirlpool Corporation. On December 22, Maytag stockholders agreed to sell Maytag to Whirlpool, ending Maytag's 112-year history as an independent company.|
|2006||On March 31, Whirlpool Corp completed its acquisition of Maytag and began integrating the two appliance companies.|
|2007||Clay Earl Jackson becomes the new Maytag repairman featured in advertising campaigns. During this year, Maytag also celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Pastime washing machine by releasing the Centennial Washer and Dryer pair.|