After COVID protocols limited their attendance in Phoenix, we were excited to welcome the full Whirlpool team back to PrimeTime in Orlando. Bob Salvano, Whirlpool’s GM and vice president of sales and marketing, was able to step away from the Expo booth for a few minutes to join us on CenterStage and share some of the company’s latest innovations on display at the show, including 2-in-1 laundry and air fry ranges.
Watch the full slate of CenterStage interviews from Orlando over on the Nationwide Marketing Group YouTube channel.
Amy Croom: Hello and welcome back to CenterStage here at PrimeTime in Orlando. I am very excited right now to be joined by Bob Salvano from Whirlpool, GM, VP of Sales and Marketing. Thanks so much for taking some time, Bob.
Bob Salvano: Absolutely, absolutely.
Amy Croom: Well, I mean, it’s a great show. The floor’s been open for a couple hours. So tell me, how are things going at the Whirlpool biz?
Bob Salvano: They’re going very well. We’re very excited since we were here in February, the last PrimeTime. Recovery getting better, certainly from an inventory perspective, creating a lot of excitement, certainly. And then obviously we didn’t have all our sales team here. We were limited with COVID. We only brought a handful of folks. We got a lot of sales folks here, and the trade customers are extremely excited to get in front of our team. Lots of excitement down there.
Amy Croom: I am so glad to hear it. And so there’s a lot of buzz. A lot of people are coming into the booth to come see y’all. What’s driving all that excitement? What are members clamoring to see?
Bob Salvano: Outside of just getting in front of our teams, we’ve got some of our latest innovation that we’ve launched, certainly the two-in-one laundry within Whirlpool brand. That’s stuff that the team is kind of highlighting as well as air fry ranges. And then we’re really kind of emphasizing KitchenAid. Starting to come back in stock. We’ve got a couple new platforms being launched in refrigeration, quad refrigerator, some counter-depth models that’ll be available here, Q4, Q1. So making sure that we take the teams through that for sure.
Amy Croom: Yeah. Now you mentioned innovation and, I mean, I know that Whirlpool is a 110-year-old company, but innovation has always been at the heart of everything that you all do. Talk with me a little bit about some of the innovative new things that members and consumers can expect to see from Whirlpool in the coming months.
Bob Salvano: Yeah, great question. So I think we’ll continue to see some innovation being launched in Maytag laundry next. So we’ve got a new technology that’s going to be coming out in the back half of this year. So I don’t want to leak yet, but stay tuned. It’ll certainly be exciting. So really a lot in the laundry side of things, and then as we get into next year, more from a refrigeration and cooking standpoint. So yeah, some good stuff.
Amy Croom: That’s excellent. And talking about laundry, I know that inventory is really stabilizing on the laundry side, which is fantastic news and members are really excited about that. So what changes have you all made at Whirlpool to help improve inventory levels on the laundry side?
Bob Salvano: Yeah, really good question. I think it’s more so from a manufacturing perspective, what we’ve done from a labor standpoint, some of the investments we’ve made there, and just our ability from a procured part standpoint, making sure that we’re… We feel much more bullish on the back half of the year in terms of that situation. So that’s really accelerated our recovery. Top load, we’re in a very good position. Front load’s starting to ramp up now, so we’re feeling really good about our laundry category.
Amy Croom: That is fantastic. So you said you’re bullish on laundry for the end of 2022. So as we look forward to other categories for 2022 and into 2023, any predictions, anything on the horizon?
Bob Salvano: Well, I’m a little leery to make predictions because I’ve been wrong in a lot of cases. But I think we’ll see, even in the back half of this year, stainless steel tub dishwashers will continue to improve, cooking products. And then as we get into next year, refrigeration, specifically French door bottom mounts, have kind of been our Achilles heel. We’ll start to see improvement as we get into 2023.
Amy Croom: Yeah. What other initiatives? I mean, as we look at the independent channel, the Whirlpool independent relationship is so strong and it’s so longstanding. What else is Whirlpool doing to support independent retailers?
Bob Salvano: Yeah, really good question. And we spent a lot of time talking at the show, the main stage as well as our trade customer meetings. Just some choppy waters ahead. We’re seeing foot traffic kind of come down a little bit. Things shift more to duress versus planned purchases. So how do we help the independent retailer navigate through that? I mean, we’re working with Nationwide on some marketing initiatives to tailor towards that duress consumer. We feel like we’ve got the right models and price points to tailor to those folks. We’ve got some great buy-ins for the show as well as everyday specials for them to lean into. And then we’ve really partnered with Nationwide and the independent side on the sell-through side of things. We know warehouse space is tight. Foot traffic’s coming out, so how can we not only incentivize the buy, but help them sell through it?
Amy Croom: Yeah. Wonderful. All right. Anything else that you want to share? Are you sure I can’t get you to give just a little bit more of a sneak peek at what’s coming?
Bob Salvano: Yeah, I will just say that we’ve got some exciting things on the horizon for KitchenAid brand, and I know that certainly gets the independent side excited.
Amy Croom: That is very exciting. We can’t wait to see what it’s all about. So I know that you are ready to come back in March. We’re going to reconvene again in March in Dallas, be a great show. Hopefully we’ll be able to talk about some of these things that are coming in Q4. What advice would you give to retailers who weren’t able to join us here at PrimeTime?
Bob Salvano: Yeah, I would say really our mission is to get fully engaged with the trade, with our sales teams. I know that over the last, call it six months, it’s been kind of spotty due to COVID, but engage with our sales teams, take advantage of some of the tools that we have to kind of manage through these choppy waters on the duress side of things, and continue to work on that partnership. We’re going to get this thing back on track for sure.
Amy Croom: All right. We are very excited. And I thank you so much for coming out and taking a few minutes out of your time here on CenterStage.
Bob Salvano: Absolutely. Thanks for the invite.
Amy Croom: Thank you for joining us here on CenterStage. I do hope you’ll tune back in. We have lots more to come today and tomorrow from Orlando.
Nationwide Marketing Group works on behalf of thousands of independent appliance, furniture, bedding, electronics, specialty electronics, custom installation and rent-to-own dealers helping them grow their businesses and thrive on their own terms. With more than 5,000 members operating some 14,000 storefronts, Nationwide Marketing Group is the largest buying, marketing and business support organization of its kind, representing billions in combined annual sales across the membership. For over 50 years, the organization has remained committed to the independent channel, empowering members with the scale, sophistication and efficiencies they need to compete while delivering the unmatched business intelligence, tools and resources required to win in an ever-changing business environment.