BENTON HARBOR (WWJ) – Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool Corp. said Tuesday that due to decreasing call volume it will consolidate its United States contact center network, resulting in the closure of its Yakima, Wash. contact center, impacting 160 employees. 

Approximately 50 jobs will be added to both of the company’s two remaining U.S. contact centers located in Benton Harbor and Cleveland, Tenn.  Whirlpool expects the Yakima center to close during the second quarter, 2011.

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“This is difficult news to share, and we arrived at the decision only after a thorough analysis,” said Kathy Nelson, vice president, consumer and appliance care. “Whirlpool Corporation is always looking for ways to improve its operations, and several initiatives have reduced the number of calls received.  These include a better and more streamlined experience for consumers and improvements in product quality. By reducing the number of U.S. contact centers from three to two, we can increase our efficiencies while maintaining our award-winning customer service.” 

Following its evaluation, the company determined that its existing contact centers had sufficient capacity to support its U.S. and Canada consumers.  “This is no reflection on our Yakima employees, who have worked hard to help serve the needs of our consumers,” added Nelson.

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Whirlpool will provide outplacement and other support to Yakima employees during the transition period. 

Whirlpool had annual sales of more than $18 billion in 2010, 71,000 employees, and 66 manufacturing and technology research centers around the world. The company markets Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Amana, Brastemp, Consul, Bauknecht and other major brand names to consumers in nearly every country around the world.

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More at www.whirlpoolcorp.com .