All About Maytag: Product Lines, History And Reviews

This article takes a positive slant on the Maytag Corporation,its history and where it is today. The article mentions Maytags progress in ten-twenty year segments.

The Maytag Corporation had a simple start. Four young men in Newton, Iowa invested $600 each to start the Maytag Company, a farming equipment manufacturing company. In 1893 $2,400 was enough to buy a modest building and the necessary equipment to do this. The four men were George W. Parsons, Frederick Louis Maytag and Maytag's two brothers-in-law.

The business was successful almost immediately; due to Parsons' invention, a thresher self-feeding attachment, called the Parsons Feeder. Before Parsons invention, farmers were very often seriously injured feeding hay into the thresher.

Another farm implement invented at Maytag was the Ruth Feeder (another self-feeder). By 1902, the company was the largest feeder attachment manufacturer in the world and Ruth was the most popular brand logo. This logo at was a circular picture of a pretty female field-worker, glancing right, with a very small smile and some kind of produce held on her left arm. A field ready to harvest is in the background, and a barn, far away. Two words, the Ruth, are boldly printed on the bottom arc of the circle.

Farm equipment sold seasonally. To offset this, Fred Maytag produced the Maytag-Mason Auto in Waterloo, Iowa. This didn't work out very well so Maytag began manufacturing home washing machines (1907) in his original plant. Maytag called this model washer, the Pastime. It was a wooden tub with a hand crank that pulled the clothes through the cycles. Fred Maytag was the sole owner of the Maytag Company by 1911 and decided to concentrate on manufacturing washing machines.

In 1915 the Maytag Company introduced its Multi-Motor gasoline engine washer to the homeowner. It became a must for every rural homemaker who didn't have access to electricity which amounted to quite a bit of sales in this time period.

Fred Maytag's son, L.B. Maytag, began running the company in the early 20s and made it a national and world business. (He was CEO 1920-1926)



Maytag's research development head, Howard Snyder, invented one of the most significant inventions in laundry appliance history in the 1920s. It was a vained agitator mounted on the bottom of the tub. The washers were called Gyrafoam washers. The new design was such an immediate success, Maytag decided to end their farm equipment business and produce and sell washers exclusively. Maytag made a million washing machines by 1927.

Maytag went public and was listed on the N.Y. Stock Exchange in 1925. Fred Maytag's other son, E.H. Maytag took over the company in 1926 and ran it until 1940. The Maytag Corporation was one of the few businesses in the United States that didn't suffer losses during the next few years. It survived the depression without a loss. E.H. Maytag died in 1940 and his son, Fred Maytag II became its president in 1949.

Like the other big appliance companies, Maytag suspended the manufacture of washing machines during World War II (1940-1945). With their talent for simplifying the manufacturing process, Maytag reduced the number of parts for a bomb cylinder from 110 to 28 which also made the device 2 pounds lighter. This cut cost, shortened production time and improved performance.

Business resumed in 1946 and increased to the point that Maytag had to build another plant in 1949 (also in Newton, Iowa). Another plant was build next to this one in 1951. It was built originally so that Maytag could produce parts for tanks and other military equipment for our country during the Korean War.

Maytag began manufacturing clothes dryers in 1953. It stopped making wringer washing machines in 1983. In 1958 the company began making washers and dryers for commercial self-service laundries and other commercial industries. It added a line of front-loading washers in 1987.

Maytag marketed a line of ranges and refrigerators, which were manufactured by another company but had the Maytag name, from 1946 until 1960 (ranges were discontinued in 1955). In 1966 Maytag rethought this decision and decided to reenter the kitchen appliance market with a dishwasher. In 1968 they presented to the consumer a line of food waste disposers and in 1971 built-in dishwashers. In 1981 Maytag bought the Hardwick Stove Company of Cleveland, Tennessee and re-entered the cooking appliance field. Maytag has offered the consumer a complete line of gas and electric ranges, microwaves, built-in ovens and waste disposers since 1982. This is in addition to washers and dishwashers.

Maytag bought Jenn-Air Corporation in 1982. This led to Maytag's development of the concept of down-draft cook tops which made grilling steaks etc, a year round activity. Maytag acquired the Chicago Pacific Corporation and its Hoover division in 1989.

Today, (2005) the Maytag Corporation is made-up of three divisions, the Hoover Group, the appliance group and the diversified products group. Admiral, Magic Chef, Jenn-Air and Maytag are some of the brands that Maytag's appliances are marketed under.

They still have their headquarters in Newton, Iowa but also have plants all over the world. employing over 18,000. Although Maytag's Net Income for 2004 was a loss of $9.1 million and its sales growth had declined 1.5%, Ripplewood Holdings LLC of New York bought it this year (2005) for more that $1.1 billion.

Ripplewood Holdings is relatively new in its field but seems to know what to buy. I'm sure that by December 2006 Maytag will show a positive growth in sales and profits. (This is only my opinion)

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