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Chief technology officer to retire from Whirlpool

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Mike Thieneman, executive vp and chief technology officer for Whirlpool has announced his retirement, according to a press release from the appliance maker.

Whirlpool said the company will name a successor “at a later date.”

“Mike has been a great contributor to Whirlpool,” said Jeff Fettig, Whirlpool’s chairman and CEO. “His most recent contribution has been to instill effective and disciplined product development processes globally to ensure great quality and innovation for our consumers.”

Thieneman was named executive vp and chief technology officer in June 2000. He joined the company in 1977 as a project engineer. He held a variety of leadership positions, including president and CEO of Inglis (now known as Whirlpool Canada); president of Whirlpool Compressor Operations in Riva di Chieri, Italy; and, corporate vp-Global Procurement Operations. In October 1997, he was named executive vp-North American region.

Thieneman will retire effective June 30.

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Demand dips for lawn and garden products

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Unfavorable weather patterns, lower home values and rising fuel and energy costs conspired to limit demand for lawn and garden products in 2007, according to market research firm Freedonia Group.

Consumer demand for fertilizers, pesticides, soils, mulch and other garden products hit a snag last year when parts of the United States experienced a cold spring and drought conditions throughout the summer, according to a recently released study by the Freedonia Group. Spending on packaged lawn and garden products in 2007 was also dampened by rising fuel and energy costs, as well as lowered home values, the study said.

Going forward, the Freedonia Group projected an annual 4.5 percent rise in lawn and garden sales, with consumers spending approximately $9.3 billion in 2012. The graying of the Baby Boom generation will boost demand, especially for products that extend living spaces like patios and decks.

Other growth categories listed by the study are: fast acting and easy-to-use fertilizers; rubber and colored mulches; and premium soils. Increased concerns over the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides will provide opportunities for organic products, which are expected to undergo substantial improvements in effectiveness, availability and marketing, as well as lower prices.

The Freedonia study also looks at the leading lawn and garden suppliers and their respective market shares in the consumer market. For more information, visit www.freedoniagroup.com.

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DuPont prevails in unusual dioxin case

BY HBSDEALER Staff

DuPont prevailed in the retrial of a civil lawsuit brought by Mississippi resident Glen Strong, who won a $14 million jury verdict from the manufacturer in 2005. Strong had claimed his rare blood cancer was caused by dioxins from a Gulf Coast DuPont plant which he ingested through the air and by eating oysters from the Bay of St. Louis.

ADuPont titanium dioxide plant is located in DeLisle, Miss., about five miles from Strong’s residence.

DuPont attorney Deborah Kuchler told the Associated Press the company argued there was no connection between Strong’s illness and the plant. She said 850 more claims are pending against DuPont stemming from operations at the DeLisle plant.

“DuPont’s plan is to continue to defend these cases and the safety of its operations,” Kuchler told the wire service.

Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont has operations in more than 70 countries.

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