Places that Matter

Workplaces matter. And they tell stories too.

Melano, Italy

Welcome to Melano, home town of Aristide Merloni and the EMEA hub for the hobs production

The origin of the name of our city is us, our destiny, our vocation. The name Fabriano comes from the Latin faber, meaning smith or craftsman. And over the centuries, our vocation of making and building has distinguished us and carried us far. We can boast being one of the oldest and most famous paper mills in Italy. We can boast Gentile da Fabriano, the magnificent International Gothic painter, and even back then we felt part of a larger story. And we can boast Aristide Merloni, born here in 1897. All in all, this is a family adventure that has gone global.

In the 30s, we produced scales; in the 50s, boilers and gas cookers. We became Indesit and today Whirlpool. Our Melano factory, 5 kilometres from Fabriano, opened in 1969, the year the first man landed on the moon and half a million young people gathered in Woodstock.

We too have travelled far. Our cookers, which we now produce for seven major brands, have landed as far as Australia – quite a journey from the green hills of the Marche surrounding our factory. We have pushed northward as well, to Russia, to our twin city of Lipetsk, and into Turkey, with our line of refrigerators.

We like to produce, and produce well – with the craftsman like care that has characterized us for centuries and that a brand like KitchenAid especially demands. But we like innovation and creativity in design, too. It is impossible to have been faber for millennia without believing in the future.

Radomsko, Poland

Welcome to Radomsko, a city of rich history in the heart of Poland, where we manufacture dishwashers and washing machines

In December there was just a snow covered expanse, never ending countryside with dark trees dotting the white landscape. In the spring of the following year pillars of the new factory appeared out of the ground. It was 2007 and Radomsko was reborn. Vittorio Merloni, however, was not the first Italian to be attracted to our town. In the early sixteenth century Bona Sforza, daughter of Gian Galeazzo Sforza and Isabella of Naples, wife of Sigismund I the Old, King of Poland, had a Franciscan Monastery built not far from our factory.

Then came the World War II and Radomsko became “Banditenstadt”, the city of bandits, so named because of its courageous and incisive defence against the Germans. Still today the supporters of our football team RKS, Radomszczański Klub Sportowy, put this name on their flags.

We began working metal in the nineteenth century, it was agricultural tools back then, today we produce state of the art dishwashers and washing machines, 1,000,000 a year in 2010, 6,000,000 a year today.

Whirlpool has arrived and broadened its horizons. Some of us discovered America when we were young, not just dreaming the American dream, but shouting and screaming heavy metal songs, to let out our rage and our desire for liberty against a regime that was about to collapse. In fact we are all still heavy metal kids, as William S. Burroughs wrote. We are still ready to fight for our factory and our family. We do not give up easily. And many have already realized this.

Yate, UK

Welcome to Yate, home to the aircraft manufacturing industry and to today’s state of the art tumble dryer assembly lines

When we started in 1917, the sky was still as untouched as it was when the world began. The first contrails to cross it were those of our planes. We were the Royal Flying Corps repair workshop. George Parnall, a man of great vitality, arrived in 1925, and that was when we began building planes piece by piece.

Then we specialised in machine gun turrets – an unusual production line in the heart of our beautiful, green, and quiet countryside. In fact it wasn’t until 1941 that the German air force discovered us. Every year we remember the fifty-three workers who lost their lives and the one hundred and fifty who were injured. But we went back to work right away and by 1944 the factory was active again.

Peace led us to convert our production to washing machines – dryers today – and to change our address, Station Road, a location that is a symbol for us, just as Abbey Road is for the Beatles. We became Merloni in 2001 and Whirlpool in 2014, and the energy and frankness from overseas perhaps dissolved some rigidities: years ago the personnel department would know us by contract number, today we give our name.

What has remained the same is our aspiration to aim high, to improve, to change together with technology. It is also a matter of location: George Parnall chose Yate because of its flat, vast terrain, ideal for taking off and landing.

A bit like our factory, where the offices and production lines are all on the same level, to ensure a perfect flight every day.

Siena, Italy

Welcome to Siena, home of the Palio horse race and the EMEA hub for horizontal freezers, ice makers and single-door refrigerators

When you say Siena, you say Palio. And no one can blame us if we only like to speak of the Palio among ourselves. If you were not born here, in one of our city’s seventeen contrade, you cannot understand the hate or the love. And you cannot understand that for us, taking a long trip, going abroad, can mean just going to Florence.

We love our piazza, the fabulous Piazza del Campo. We love our Duomo, one of the greatest examples of Italian Romanesque/Gothic, with its extraordinary “Gate of Heaven”, recalling the ladder Jacob used in his dream to climb to the heavens. We have always thought big. Just between us, but big – even when we make freezers and refrigerators.

We were born in 1967, the year Tartuca won the Palio on 2 July and Selva won the Assumption Palio on 16 August. We started out as Ignis and then in 1991 we became Whirlpool.

One day a few years ago, in a difficult moment of our history, a female top executive had the fantastic idea of bringing Siena into our plant. Pure pride! At the entrance, the coats-of-arms of the contrade, on parade, as if the factory had become the piazza – even better, the “mossa” when the horses line up for the start of the Palio. Then came the silhouette of the city and finally, the doors to the historic centre, from Porta di Camollia to Porta Tufi, framing the spaces where products come out along the production line.

And while we are on the subject of products, there is one we all root for, no matter which contrada we are from, and that is the new Iconic refrigerator. When you say KitchenAid, you say Siena.

Wroclaw, Poland

Welcome to Wroclaw, home to the free-standing cooling and built-in ovens

There is a time in everyone’s life when everything is perfect: in winter, under a glassy sky, walking together along the banks of the River Oder whose waters reflected the two bell towers of St John’s Cathedral, in Ostrów Tumski the oldest part of Wroclaw, the island in the middle of our river. Romantic, certainly, but many of us have stories full of romanticism, challenges, exaggeration.

In our factory, years ago, a young man challenged Soviet power in the name of Solidarność, and today a young woman has become an Ironwoman, running 42 km in 9 hours 56 minutes, cycling 180 km, and swimming nearly 4 km. Confidence and an iron will. Very Whirlpool style.

The name of our town appears for the first time in the year one thousand. It seemed as if the world was about to collapse, but we carried on. We have become one of the most important commercial hubs in Silesia, we joined the Hanseatic League, we built that masterpiece of urban architecture that is Rynek, a square like no other in Europe, we became German, Prussian, and German again, then we became Polish in the Soviet Empire, and finally we became just Polish.

Polar, our factory, was created thirty years ago. Refrigerators, of course. Whirlpool arrived in 2002 and the temperature changed, not only because we started producing ovens. Another thaw, a new sense of ease, new career opportunities. Everything more flowing, everything new. Not the river though: that has remained the same, its waters keep flowing under the bridges and in winter, at night, the ice shines like the sky.

Naples, Italy

Welcome to Naples, the EMEA hub for the front-load washing machines

It was 1963 when Giovanni Borghi inaugurated our factory, and in that year a beautiful song, Claudio Villa’s Jammo jà, was heard all over Naples. Come on, let’s go said the lyrics. Come on, let’s go, a new day has dawned, a new season, a new technological era.

Today we are ready too, ready to reach the factory and give our best every day. This is Naples, enthusiasm, warmth and work ethics: many of our families have been working on these production lines for three generations. Employees’ children and grandchildren, but even husbands and wives, love stories have bloomed here.

We enjoyed an extraordinary period, one million washing machines per year, and we felt our production was synonymous with excellence. Things are harder today, but our firm and unrelenting dedication to work has never changed. Just as our sense of family.

We help each other, we are the only ones to have an all-workers- run Whirlpool CRAL (the employees’ recreational group), an institution that boasts a special history.
We put our hearts into it, and every year we set up a play, with our script, costumes and actors, because it’s us on that stage.

We want every day to be important and unique, even when clouds seem to be gathering. We want to distinguish ourselves and not give in to predictions. Maybe with just a small gesture, a blue streak in our hair, blue like the sea in the Gulf of Naples, the most beautiful in the world. Or by protecting the trees along our Costiera, the pride of the Mediterranean. Or by taking a photo every day making our yearly journal: no momentous events, but details on the route from home to work, a face, light brightening the shadow. Jammo jà, let’s go, tomorrow there’ll be another photo.

Manisa, Turkey

Welcome to Manisa, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where we produce refrigerators and washing machines

Anyone who lives in Manisa has a great future ahead. And that has been true ever since the time of Suleiman the Magnificent, who lived in our city from 1513 to 1520. At that time, he was a prince, and soon he would lead the Ottoman Empire to its greatest heights of splendour. But he was also a loving son. When his mother got sick after the death of her husband, and no one was able to cure her, Suleiman called for Merkez Muslihiddin Efendi, director of the theology school of Yavuz Selim mosque and doctor in a small hospital.

Merkez combined forty-one medicinal plants to create a special salve, which he sent to the palace. Suleiman’s mother got better and decided to offer her subjects the medicine that had saved her. Since then, at the beginning of spring, the miraculous balm – now a UNESCO World Heritage – is launched in the form of little candies from the top of the Mosque of the Sultan.

We like this story because it speaks a bit about our success. We were born in 1990 under the “reign” of Vittorio Merloni, and we grew over the years, inheriting lines from many plants in Europe. We put these “ingredients” together and created our own recipe.

Today we produce refrigerators and washing machines. Whirlpool arrived four years ago. One thing that has never changed is the beauty of the mountains just a few minutes from our plant. In the 50s, they were the home of Ahmet Bedevi, known by the name of Tarzan of Manisa, ecologist and pacifist ante litteram. Everyone in the city knew and loved him. The only thing we still argue about today is football – Galatasaray fans versus Fenerbahce fans. And no miraculous balm can cure our desire to win.

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Cassinetta, Italy

Welcome to Cassinetta, the EMEA hub for built-in microwaves, refrigerators and ovens

We’ve printed it on a poster, an x on a yellow background and a few words: “We’ve always done it this way”. And below, in smaller print, “The most dangerous phrase in business”. If we had always done it in the same way, we would still be living in the Neolithic pile dwellings of Isolino Virginia on Lake of Varese, just a few minutes from our factory.

But the idea of lighting a fire, cooking and gathering round the hearth has been one of the best ideas in the history of mankind. Lots of x’s led to the inauguration in 1946 of Giovanni Borghi’s first Ignis factory.

Just a few years later the heat of the electric cookers was joined by the cold of the refrigerators. In 1989 another x: Whirlpool.

Our factory is located in the heart of a centuries-old park with cedar, magnolia and larch trees. We like to grow and we like the adjective new.

New work time schedules, new side by side factory, new stainless steel treatment technology Ixelium, new microwave oven factory, which means four production lines and along each line 16 workers producing 549 microwave ovens a day, over 1,300,00 a year.

We are new, with a tireless need for innovation, even when in our Food Institute we study the future of food and the tools for its transformation and conservation. Lots of x’s that cancel out energy and time wasting. Many experiments in order to offer our customers and our partners the most advanced technology that translates into safeguarding our wellbeing and promoting our creativity. Silently the trees in the park continue to grow.

Lipetsk, Russia

Welcome to Lipetsk, the EMEA pole for refrigerators and washing machines

In 1703, Peter the Great decided to transform a village on the banks of the Lipovka River into the most important metallurgical centre in Russia. It had iron mines, a waterway, highly-skilled manpower and a strategic position in the centre of the empire. The project must have been truly dear to the Tsar given that he had celebrated the birth of St. Petersburg earlier that same year. In 1779, his daughter, Catherine the Great, officially named the new city Lipetsk, in homage to the linden trees, called lipa in Russian.

A century and half later, in the Soviet era, the industrial complex of Novolipetsky was inaugurated. And it is here, in the heart of this immense steelworks, that we were born. In 1993 we were the Stinol refrigerator factory. In 2000, we became Merloni, in 2005 Indesit, and in 2014 Whirlpool.

In twenty-six years, we have produced 25,000,000 refrigerators and 11,000,000 washing machines. And we have seen Russia change.

To review the history of our country, one needs only to take a stroll in the centre. In Sobornaya Place, in front of the magnificent Church of the Nativity, stands a statue of Lenin.

A little further along are monuments to Peter the Great and to the cosmonauts. We have always loved conquest. And we love nature. In the summer, we go to our dacia with its vegetable garden, flowers, and preserves for the winter. The cold is part of our lives. We know how to deal with it. In February, it goes down a slowas -37°. Our freezers? They operate perfectly at -20°.

Comunanza, Italy

Welcome to Comunanza, where we produce front-load washers and washer dryers

One of us, as a child, worked in the field where the factory was later built. Many of us saw the first stone laid. This is just to say that we have roots in this factory, as we do with our land. And for years we have also been deeply attached to our founder. Vittorio Merloni arrived here in his helicopter and we accompanied him through the lines. In 1975, we produced 50 washing machines a day; today we produce about 4000, all high-tech, high-end products.

Comunanza has always produced “the new”, and then exported it. Expertise was developed and the end, the results have served as a model for others. In the “Merloni years”, Italian was an international language, in Poland, Russia and Turkey. But a great entrepreneur prepares himself and is prepared for change. And we were ready to follow him, even in his absence, in the transition that brought us to Whirlpool.

We knew that we had an imposing history behind us, a bit like the Sibillini Mountains that overlook our valleys. We knew that we played a strategic role for our region, the Marche. And we knew that we would be able to learn another language, English, and another less top-down and more mutual management style.

From being an international company, we have now become global. Nonetheless, when visitors enter our factory, they still recognize, after all these years, the Italian logic of our productive process – all clear, fluid and intuitive. That is a hallmark of the factory. And it is the best way to stay open to new paths into the future.

Isithebe, South Africa

Welcome to Isithebe, the home to the production of free-standing refrigerators and upright & chest freezers

For at least six centuries, many set their name upon this territory. The immense region where our factory is located is called KwaZulu-Natal. KwaZulu means “place of the Zulu” while Natal refers to the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama who landed on this coast on 25 December 1497.

And then there is Durban, the second largest city in South Africa, 100 kilometres from Isithebe, named in honour of Sir Benjamin d’Urban, the English governor in 1935. The English are also responsible for the immense sugar cane plantations covering the hills that, with the first breath of wind, move like waves on the sea, or better, like waves on the Indian Ocean.

We opened our factory in 1975. We have been Whirlpool since 1996 and have always produced refrigerators. During the years of apartheid, finally abolished in 1994, many of our workers did not even have electricity. Today many things have changed with the firm, from the level of safety in the plant to its culture, social influence and productivity.

In 2015 and 2016, we achieved results that exceeded all our expectations. Also in 2016, we were among the finalists for the KwaZulu-Natal Productivity Awards. To reach these goals, we created a training centre and a medical clinic inside the factory, because health and work are basic rights of every man. Whatever the colour of our skin and whatever our role, we firmly believe in the maxim that every Zulu mother tells her children: Ayikwo Inkono Yobuthongo; if you want to obtain great results, you have to sweat.

Poprad, Slovakia

Welcome to Poprad, where we produce front & top-load washers

We have always been at the centre of important communication routes and great historical destinies. We have always been strategic, ever since 1256, when the name Poprad appears for the first time in official documents. We were already famous then for the skills of our artisans and the beauty of their creations.

In 1567 Spišská Sobota, the oldest part of our town, held one of the most important fairs in Bohemia and, two centuries later, the annals of the town recorded the presence of 123 artisans. Last but not least, in 1821 the first bookshop of the region was opened in this same square.

But Poprad’s vitality is also hidden underground, in its rich sulphurous waters that in the early nineteenth century attracted the European nobility. Even Ludwig van Beethoven was able to appreciate the benefits of the thermal treatments and his famous Moonlight Sonata was composed a few miles from here.

And then there are the High Tatras, the highest peaks of the Carpathian Mountains, snow covered summits, magnificent woods, wonderful days spent together with our families. And every day in our factory, one of Whirlpool’s largest, founded 25 years ago, we produce 10,000 washing machines, one every 7 seconds. And every day 140 lorries transport our products all over Europe. Nothing new really.

Łódź, Poland

Welcome to Łódź, home to production of free-standing refrigerators, cookers and hobs

It is written “Łódź” but it is pronounced “uch”. It is written “Poland”, but in the last three centuries it has been Prussia, Germany, Russia and only since the 90s have we come home again. It is us; we are Polish. Indesit came in 1999. At one time, we produced jeans in this same factory. In effect, we inherited the industrial destiny of our city, which had become one of the most important centres of textile production in Europe in the mid-1800s. It was a cosmopolitan, modern city with factories instead of castles and palaces, red brick factories. And today one of them is the largest shopping mall in all of Poland.

In one of our offices we collected some of these stories, Italian as well as Polish. Beside Maradona’s jersey was a broadsword from Malbork Castle, a book of Polish fairy tales, a photograph of Capri, another of Vesuvius, and a copy of The Promised Land, a novel by the Polish Nobel Prize winning author Władysław Reymont, made into a remarkable film by Andrzej Wayda.

Naturally we speak English now; we are Whirlpool and we are the largest plant in Europe, including our rivals. Our production spans hot and cold, kitchens and refrigerators and freezers. And we are already building a new line. It is written “Lodz”, but one reads energy, rebirth, youth, work, trust, Europe.

Carinaro, Italy

Welcome to Carinaro, the EMEA Spare Parts Center

Over all these years, we have repeated one simple thing: this factory is ours. It is ours because we have loved it, taken care of it, defended it as if it were our home. And when we say home, we say our families, our future in a land that is also ours, one which by nature is lush with fruits and artistic treasures, yet barren when it comes to jobs.

The factory was born in 1971 but we have had at least two other births and rebirths – in 1987, when we became Merloni and about thirty years later, when we became Whirlpool. In the spring of 2015, we watched the last refrigerator leave the factory. Production stopped; the lights went out. But we did not give up. We wanted to stay in the Whirlpool family, which we felt was ours, and we fought for it. We fought hard. In 2016, our factory was reborn for the third time. Today we are the EMEA hub for spare parts and accessories. Every day we send more than 3000 pieces around the world with same precision and passion as always.

We simply changed direction. Yesterday we followed the horizontal; today we move vertically, up to the highest shelves of our warehouse. There is total silence, broken only by the droning of the forklifts. Twenty kilometres away is the Royal Palace of Caserta, commissioned in 1774 to Luigi Vanvitelli by the King of Naples, Charles of Bourbon. It was intended to rival Versailles. Indeed, it was intended to be another European centre. In the south. A little like us.

Photo credits: Alessandro Imbriaco, #PlacesthatMatter 2017