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Maytag Drops Beer, Briatico, Best Buy

Maytag completed the last leg of a six-month, $150 million restructuring by bidding farewell to the former presidents of its major appliance and floor-care divisions.

Bill Beer, who had helmed Maytag Appliances since 1998, and Tom Briatico, who was named president of Hoover in 2003, will leave the company effective Jan. 31. Beer, 52, will pursue other interests, the company said, and Briatico, 57, will retire.

Their exits will dovetail with Maytag’s own departure from Best Buy, effective later this quarter, which chairman/CEO Ralph Hake attributed to “significant declines” in its sales of white goods there over the last several years. “At this time, it does not make sense to continue selling our major appliances at Best Buy,” Hake said, although the No. 4 majap chain will continue to carry the Hoover line. Maytag’s majap sales at Best Buy accounted for about 1 percent of the vendor’s consolidated revenue last year.

The fates of Beer and Briatico were seemingly sealed last June when Maytag undertook a sweeping reorganization designed to resuscitate its ailing floor-care business, streamline operations, cut costs and position major appliances for faster growth. The consolidation cut the salaried workforce by 20 percent; reduced Hoover headquarters in North Canton, Ohio, to a manufacturing and research site; folded Maytag’s corporate, floor care and business units under a single sales and marketing umbrella; and eliminated Beer’s and Briatico’s president posts along with their senior staffs.

Both execs were reassigned to the office of the president, a new structure with “indeterminate” responsibilities, Hake said at the time. Those positions will now be eliminated.

“During our restructuring effort, both Bill and Tom took on key roles, assisting with special projects to ensure a smooth transition within the business,” Hake said in a statement issued yesterday. “Our restructuring is now complete, and both of these highly capable executives have decided to pursue the next phase of their lives.”

Beer joined Maytag 31 years ago as a market analyst and served in a number of marketing roles within the majap division. He was named corporate strategy director in 1991 and marketing VP for Maytag and Admiral in 1993. Beer was promoted to strategic marketing VP in 1996, with responsibility for all of Maytag’s white-goods brands. He was named senior VP/product supply in 1997 and assumed the role of president of Maytag Appliances in 1998.

Briatico began his career in 1974 with Admiral’s Magic Chef division, where he held numerous financial positions including finance VP. He was named manufacturing VP of Maytag’s Cleveland Cooking Products unit in 1988, was appointed VP/general manager at Cleveland in 1995, and became president of Dixie-Narco Vending Systems in 2001. He assumed the top Hoover spot two years later.

The restructuring is expected to save Maytag $150 million annually and help it achieve an 8 percent operating profit margin this quarter.