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RACINE – InSinkErator, a home-grown brand of food waste disposers and instant hot water dispensers, is being sold to home appliance giant Whirlpool Corp. for $3 billion.

Whirlpool, based in Benton Harbor, Mich., and Emerson Electric Co., of St. Louis, and InSinkErator’s owner since 1968, announced the planned all-cash transaction Monday morning. The acquisition, which has already been approved by the boards of directors of both companies, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year pending regulatory approval.

InSinkErator employs an estimated 1,100 people at a sprawling manufacturing plant at 4700 21st St. in Racine and at a headquarters and research-and-development building at 1250 International Drive in Mount Pleasant. The company also has a production facility at 5612 95th Avenue in Kenosha.

Jim Peters, Whirlpool’s chief financial officer, told Bloomberg News that Whirlpool doesn’t anticipate a major restructuring of the InSinkErator workforce or manufacturing footprint. It will also keep the headquarters here.

However, Whirlpool sees an opportunity to sell InSinkErator products under its brands, including KitchenAid and Maytag, Peters said. The focus will be on the US and Canada, but the company could also introduce the lineup to other markets.

Bloomberg reported that InSinkErator holds “a commanding lead in the food waste-disposal industry, with a greater than 70% market share.” Under Whirlpool, the brand will operate as a separate business within the North America region, which accounts for more than half of the appliance maker’s sales.

The acquisition of InSinkErator is expected to add about $650 million to Whirlpool’s sale and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of more than $170 million for the year ended Sept. 30, according to a statement from Whirlpool and Emerson.

InSinkErator: invented and made in Racine

An InSinkErator food waste disposer. The appliance was invented in Racine and has been produced here commercially since 1938. InSinkErator now produces and sells more than 70% of all food waste disposers. – Credit: Paul Holley

The food waste disposer that eventually became a multi-million dollar international business has its origins in the basement workshop of Racine architect John W. Hammes (1895-1953). He developed a grinder hooked to an electric motor that turned food waste into particles small enough to be flushed down the drain and eventually to the city’s sewage treatment plant.

Hammes started commercial production of his invention in 1938. The InSinkErator brand name was a play on the word “incinerator” and a nod to the fact that the appliance did its work beneath the kitchen sink. The new product was marketed as a quick-and-easy solution to a messy chore – taking out the garbage.

InSinkErator grew dramatically during the post-World War II housing boom of the 1950s and ‘60s. Sales got a further boost when city officials around the country recognized that the use of disposals was a cost-effective method of dealing with household garbage. Several cities started to require garbage disposals in building codes for new housing.

The manufacturing plant at 21st and Ohio Streets opened in 1962 and has been expanded several times over the years. Emerson Electric Co. bought InSinkErator in 1968 and made it a subsidiary. Emerson later added hot water dispensers, trash compacters and dishwashers to the product line. By the late 1970s, InSinkErator was producing half of all the garbage disposals sold in the world.

Emerson opened its InSinkErator division’s $34 million headquarters and research and development facility on an 11.5-acre site in Mount Pleasant in November 2018.

About the buyer

Whirlpool Corp., founded in 1911, manufactures and markets a large variety of home appliances worldwide. Its products include refrigerators, freezers, ice makers, laundry appliances and related laundry accessories; cooking and other small domestic appliances; and dishwasher appliances and related accessories.

Among the Whirlpool brands are: Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, JennAir, Amana, Roper, Affresh, Gladiator, Swash, everydrop, Speed Queen, Hotpoint, Bauknecht, Indesit, Ignis, Privileg, Consul, Eslabon de Lujo, Brastemp, Acros, Ariston, Diqua, and Royalstar.

Whirlpool is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol WHR. The company reported annual revenue of $21.9 billion in 2021.


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Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...