Procter & Gamble's influence felt through Southeast Missouri

Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Eli Colunga checks boxes of Pampers diapers for quality control at Procter & Gamble. (FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com)

Standing behind a table of toilet tissue, paper towels and diapers, Procter and Gamble family care plant manager Regina Gray and baby care plant manager Marc Schoch spoke about the important role the facility has played in Southeast Missouri since its first box of Pampers rolled off the manufacturing line in 1969.

The 3.48 million-square-foot facility adjacent to Trail of Tears State Park has about 1,200 employees -- not including contract workers -- who make three of the company's 23 products that grossed more than $1 billion in sales last year. Those three products are Bounty, Pampers and Charmin.

But just as important as its $73 million payroll is the relationship the plant has formed with the community during its 40 years at 14484 Highway 177, Schoch said.

"We've had a great marriage between Procter & Gamble and Southeast Missouri," Schoch said during a tour of the facility. "We've provided careers for 3,000 employees throughout the years."

Opened in 1969, the P&G facility off Highway 177 boasts a land mass of 1,311 acres, the most of any of the company's 140 facilities. It uses 80 acres, leaving room for future expansion and preservation of the land.

Bounty paper towels roll out of the wrapping machine at the Cape Girardeau Procter & Gamble plant.

The facility is also one of the largest based on number of employees and in the top 10 in building size of any of the company's facilities in more than 80 countries.

Each day, an average of 150 trucks bring raw materials into the plant, while 200 trucks ship products out of its facility to its customers. Top clients include Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Target, Costco, Kroger, Kmart and Dollar General.

While other businesses and manufacturing facilities in Southeast Missouri and throughout the U.S. have recently experienced layoffs and closings, the Jackson plant has weathered the recession without pay cuts or reduction in its workforce, company officials said.

During its time in the area, the plant has experienced growth in both the number of employees hired and size of its facility.

To accommodate an increasing demand for its products, the plant saw expansions in 1997, 2002, 2004 and 2006. Sixty-five percent of its work force lives in Cape Girardeau, Jackson or Perryville, Mo.

Shawn Goodman watches Bounty paper towels go through the wrapping machine at Procter & Gamble. (FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com)

Schoch said the facility is like a family, noting many retirees choose to volunteer at events where the company has a presence such as the SEMO District Fair. Of those on staff, 21 percent have been employed for more than 20 years.

"We're like a family here," Schoch said. "Some of our employees worked here their entire career and that's rare in today's society."

As for its future, company officials believe it is bright, as they plan for a 40th anniversary celebration in late August.

"Values are what Procter & Gamble is all about," said Schoch, noting the plant's employees were the top giver to the United Way of Southeast Missouri in 2008. "Those are integrity, leadership, ownership, passion for winning and trust. When our people display those values we grow as a company and that's a reason why we've grown in this market for 40 years and will continue to grow in the years to come."

bblackwell@semissourian.com

388-3628

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Pertinent address:

14484 Highway 177, Jackson, MO

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