Clyde, Ohio: A Small Town Full of Big Hearts
Winesburg, Ohio: A Group of Tales of Ohio Small-Town Life is a 1919 series of short stories written by American author Sherwood Anderson. The series is set in a fictional town loosely based on the author’s childhood memories of Clyde, Ohio. Now, nearly 100 years later, it’s considered one of the most influential portraits of industrial small-town life in the U.S.
Modern-day residents of Clyde, Ohio still sometimes refer to their town as “Winesburg,” and continue to echo the plain talk and small-town sentiment that made the novel popular.
That includes folks like Laura Miller, who worked on the assembly line of Whirlpool Corporation’s Clyde plant making washing machines for 17 years. For the past eight, she’s been in the production office as an administrative assistant supporting the materials, assembly, and support areas. A mother of four, she lives on a third-generation farm run by her husband.
Laura Miller and her family on their farm
It’s one busy family. Her children are active in sports and 4H. They garden and work on the farm, which houses cattle, pigs, turkeys and chickens. It’s a wonder she has time to do it all.
But, “there’s a good work-life balance here,” explains Miller. Whirlpool further emphasizes it’s dedication to that balance through the support the corporation gives to its employees, their families and friends outside of the workplace.
It’s that spirit of giving back which helps to create the family closeness Miller feels there. “I like the vibe that we’re not only building good washing machines, but we’re supporting our community. It’s not just a factory, it’s a building full of living, breathing people.”
Miller isn’t the only one who has two jobs.
Frank Martinez manning the grill at his bar
Frank Martinez has been at the Clyde plant for nearly 35 years. A self-proclaimed “workaholic,” he spends his days on line 12 as a tugger driver, then indulges his passion for cooking and entertaining in the evenings at a bar he recently purchased.
People like to stop by “Frankie’s Place” — where he personally mans the grill — whipping up tacos, hamburgers, fried bologna or Texas grilled cheese. It’s one of those places where everybody knows your name. Martinez admits that old adage is true — people actually do all know each other in a small town like Clyde.
Many of them work together, too, with around 3,400 employees of the plant living in and around a town with a population of about 6,300. Some of these Whirlpool families go back multiple generations — so it’s the plant as much as the town that binds this community together.
Jim Andrews at Clyde High School’s football field, home of the “Clyde Fliers”
Tool Room Manager Jim Andrews is one of those employees who has been here his entire life. He has 33 years of service with Whirlpool Clyde. He and Martinez originally met when they were both local firefighters.
“I’m a third generation employee.” Andrews says. “My granddad worked here and my mom worked here.
He’s an empty-nester, leaving him time to volunteer in the community that he loves, from coaching high school football to sitting on multiple boards.
“I’m involved in a lot of different non-profit organizations,” Andrews says. “I sit on the board for Leadership Sandusky County. I sit on the board of directors for the Sandusky County United Way. I’m also the Whirlpool Representative for the Clyde Business and Professional Association.”
“The Whirlpool family here at Clyde supports United Way through their annual pledge drive,” says Andrews. “If it weren’t for the employees of this facility and their generosity, the United Way would lose 65% of their annual budget. United Way supports 30 to 35 different non-profits every year through those financial donations.”
That type of support gives folks comfort. “In the community, if something happens to one of us, Clyde’s going to be there to help us,” says Martinez. “I can guarantee you that.”
Talk to just about anybody, and they will say that the community and the plant are interwoven. Andrews describes it as an almost symbiotic relationship.
“There’s a saying around here: ‘As Whirlpool goes, Clyde goes, and as Clyde goes, Whirlpool goes.’”