The Whirlpool plant in Fort Smith stopped production Friday after almost a half a century of operation. While many see it as a blow to the community, one former employee is reflecting on happier times.
Dee Brown was laid off by Whirlpool back in 2008 after four years of service.
“It’s really sad because you get used to going to the same place,” she said.
Brown remembers enjoying her time at the plant.
“The wages are very impressive,” Brown said. “We have a union that represented us.”
Back in 2006, Whirlpool employed more than 4,500 people. The then thriving plant even sponsored an all-expense paid trip for Brown to corporate headquarters. She met the CEO, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and a Miss America winner.
“I would never have been able to enjoy those type of things unless the corporate had sent me there,” she said.
More than 800 people lost their jobs Friday when the plant officially closed after 45 years, according to a Whirlpool spokesperson.
“It’s bad for the economy here,” Brown said. “I hope someone else is able to purchase and move in and help us out.”
While it’s the end of an era and sad news for many, Brown stays positive.
“I’ll always cherish it,” she said. “There’s just no getting over the fact that i worked at Whirlpool.”
A Whirlpool spokesperson says a limited number of staff members will keep working until late July to close up the building.