BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — Whirlpool completed its buyout of Maytag March 31, just two days after receiving clearance from antitrust regulators.Craig Kirchner, global commercial laundry director of commercial laundry brands at Whirlpool, recently shared some thoughts on a variety of industry subjects. Kirchner has spent 20 years in the appliance industry, serving in sales, service and marketing positions, including four years with the Maytag commercial laundry business.THE MAYTAG NAMEKirchner: The acquisition of Maytag Corp. was of major significance to Whirlpool. We plan to keep this segment of the business model intact and allow it to flourish.Maytag Commercial Laundry has been an industry leader since 1958. The brand is synonymous with commercial laundry. Our recognition and equity will continue to increase as we explore new ways to invest and grow.Consolidation brings change, and with change comes opportunities. This new corporate structure puts us in a unique position to deliver positive results for everyone involved — the manufacturer, the trade customers and the end users.WHIRLPOOL OFFERINGSKirchner: Moving into the future, our plans include the expansion of both the Whirlpool and Maytag Commercial Laundry brands. Operators will see new products that will include even more features and benefits all across the board.INDUSTRY CONCERNSKirchner: Energy efficiency is definitely a top concern these days because it affects all of us. Whether replacing old equipment or selecting equipment for a new store, owners of coin-operated facilities need to focus on energy-efficient products of every size and shape.As a manufacturer, finding the right energy-conservation solutions to deliver to the coin laundry industry is key. I believe it is our responsibility to invest in and deliver the most energy-efficient solutions, such as our Energy Advantage appliance suite and other key innovative benefits, to the commercial laundry industry.MAJOR CHALLENGESKirchner: We’re always looking for ways to educate potential investors about the great benefits of the coin laundry industry, but improving energy-efficient equipment across the board is certainly top of mind. As legislation continues to remain aggressive in this area, we’re looking for ways to stay ahead of it in the most innovative, cost-effective way possible. We continue to explore new opportunities to help drive revenue-enhancing features.STATE OF THE INDUSTRYKirchner: I think the industry is strong and getting stronger every day. Product offerings are becoming more diverse and sophisticated, and I think they will continue in that direction. We do have a need for more revenue-generating beyond products. That’s why we are looking for services within the stores to help increase revenue.THE CRYSTAL BALLKirchner: I think we’ll see more sophisticated stores moving forward — not just in product offerings but also in service offerings. I think you’ll see newer, larger stores with a mix of larger equipment. Customers want to be able to get into a store, do their laundry and get out. A mix of larger equipment will allow them to do that.The utility/energy situation has already forced changes from a manufacturing position. We cannot sit back and wait to see what might happen. If we expect this industry to grow, we need to have a compelling reason for a potential investor to want to be a part of this. Offering solutions to the problem is a great start. As we continue to see all operating expenses rise, vender pricing needs to be adjusted accordingly. All of this needs to happen in order to keep the industry healthy and attract new, potential investors.