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  • Ohioblog: A Swing State Journal





    Friday, October 22, 2004

    The economic bells toll in bellwether Stark County 

    Before Ralph Hake became chairman and CEO of Maytag, its Hoover Co. floor-care products division was both big and profitable. Now, it is neither, and Hake says, ``I am more interested in having Hoover be profitable than having Hoover be big.'' This is not good news for North Canton and Stark County.

    Hake has fired more than 500 of the salaried staff (disclosure: that would include Ms. Ohioblog). Hake also has reduced the number of hourly workers from 2,600 at the peak to between 1,100 and 1,400 and the contract extension approved in December will allow him to cut that to 1,000 this year and to 800 next year. The company is now run from Newton, Iowa, and by 2008, when the contract expires, bet on little or no Hoover presence in North Canton.

    Hake announced Thursday that Maytag earnings had fallen almost 80 percent, with Hoover's market share off 20 percent. The people who made Hoover profitable for the past 20 years - the years before Hake was running the company - are mostly gone and Hake remains. As a shareholder with an unemployed spouse, Ohioblog is not pleased.

    They are not happy in Newton, either. If North Canton knows in its heart of hearts that Hoover soon will be history rather the community's greatest financial recource, Newtonians are worried, too. Chris Jones, a laid-off Maytag production worker, told the Des Moines Register that people ``are worried about their investment.'' To make matters worse, the Internal Revenue Service is examining Maytag tax returns and is expected to ask for more money.

    Maybe Hake should consult with consult with W.R. ``Tim'' Timken Jr., chairman of the Canton-based Timken Co. about how to do business.

    On-the-ball Timken maintains its bearings with Bush

    President Bush speaks today at the Palace Theatre in Canton, and he will get a warm welcome from the Timken Co. heirarchy. And why not? Read Stephen Koff's piece in The Plain Dealer and you will gain an appreciation of just how good the Bush administration has been for Timken. (That would necessarily include the average hourly worker, some of whom soon will be negotiating again in an effort to save the 1,300 jobs at the company's Canton bearings operations. Little of the lucrative military work is done in Canton)

    Bush upgraded the military, and Timken got no-bid contracts for military parts. Bush cut taxes, and Timken paid no federal income taxes last year. Bush applied anti-dumping penalties to foreign steel makers, and Timken got $92 million. Bush set up a trade policy that made it attractive for companies to build plants abroad, and Timken began building another factory in China.

    Denise Bowler, Timken spokeswoman, told Koff that the company would not comment on political matters. Ohioblog doesn't think it has to. Northeast Ohioans get it - both figuratively and literally.



    posted by Ohioblog: A Swing State Journal at 9:32 AM



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