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Fri, Jul 02, 2004 - Page 12 News List

Whirlpool gets a new boss in company veteran Fettig

AP , BENTON HARBOR, MICHIGAN

During his 23 years at Whirlpool, Jeff Fettig has trekked around the world on behalf of the appliance maker. His greatest journey began yesterday, when he took over for David Whitwam as chairman and chief executive (CEO).

Whitwam, 62, retired on Wednesday after holding both positions for 17 years and creating a considerable legacy at Whirlpool Corp. Between 1993 and last year, sales rose from US$7.4 billion to US$12.2 billion and net earnings increased from US$51 million to US$414 million.

Fettig says he is ready for the new challenge.

``I've worked in many, many different parts of our business, from the order desk to sales to marketing to general management,'' says Fettig, 47, who joined Whirlpool in 1981 after completing his master's degree at Indiana University.

"I've worked in the US, I've worked in Europe, I've worked in Asia," Fettig said.

He served the past five years as president and chief operating officer of the Benton Harbor-based com-pany, which is the world's leading producer of major home appliances. He will remain president while adding the titles of CEO and chairman of the board of directors.

Whirlpool has not appointed his successor as chief operating officer.

In 1987, about 5 percent of Whirlpool's revenue came from outside the US. Now, that figure is closer to 40 percent, Fettig says.

Lisa Bonnema, editor of Appliance Magazine, a trade publica-tion, likens the transition to "a passing of the torch."

"Fettig has worked alongside Whitwam for years and has also held key positions at Whirlpool over the years. He obviously supports the direction the company has taken during Whitwam's reign," she says.

However, don't expect any immediate, visible changes, she said.

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