4,000 come out to help Procter & Gamble celebrate 40th anniversary

Monday, August 31, 2009
Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder speaks about the regional effect of Procter & Gamble during Saturday's kickoff for the 40th anniversary celebration at the Cape Girardeau plant. (Kit Doyle)

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder was a seventh-grader when Procter & Gamble's facility in Cape Girardeau County produced its first box of Pampers diapers in 1969.

On Saturday, Kinder and others reminisced about the company's presence in the area during the plant's 40th anniversary celebration.

"I've felt like I've grown up with you all," Kinder told the crowd gathered outside on a mild summer afternoon. "What a happy day it was when Procter & Gamble opened its doors."

Company officials said about 4,000 current and former plant employees along with community and state leaders attended the event. Throughout the day, children went down inflatable slides, a rock band played a few tunes, about 30 classic and antique cars were on display and hot dogs and hamburgers were served.

Among those present was Tom Sutterer of Fruitland, an employee in the family care division, which produces Bounty and Charmin. An employee since 1985, Sutterer's brother-in-law and brother work at the plant. His daughter, Sarah, recently completed a summer internship in the baby care division.

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder speaks about the regional effect of Procter & Gamble during the kickoff for the 40-year celebration Saturday at the Cape Girardeau plant. (Kit Doyle)

"When I look back on what has taken place in the years I've been here, it makes me proud to think of how the company has benefited so many families like mine through the years," Sutterer said. "I've seen quite a few changes through the years, but the company's commitment to taking care of us has remained the same."

For Steve Ray of Cape Girardeau, the celebration was a chance for the former employee of the plant to visit with old friends and reminisce on his 25 years at the facility. Ray worked from 1978 to 2003 in a variety of roles.

"The fact that we're having this 40th celebration reflects that the company's got staying power," Ray said. "Procter & Gamble injects so much into the business community and brings people from all over the world into an area they may never have visited if it weren't for this plant."

Opened in 1969, the 3.48 million-square-foot facility adjacent to Trail of Tears State Park produces three of the company's products -- Bounty, Charmin and Pampers -- that grossed more than $1 billion each last year.

The facility's 1,311 acres is the most of any of Procter & Gamble's 140 facilities.

Since the original construction, eight major expansions have taken place. The first was in 1971, when space for additional Pampers production was added. Four other expansions were added by 1979. Eighteen years later, another facility was built to make Bounty and Charmin products. The latest expansions were in 2002, when the plant expanded its tissue and towel manufacturing capacity, and in 2004, when it added more space for Pampers and Luvs production.

The plant has a payroll of about $73 million for its nearly 1,200 employees. About 65 percent of its work force live in Cape Girardeau, Jackson or Perryville, Mo.

"That boosts our economy," said Mickey Harvey, who works in the baby care division that makes Pampers. "But P&G is much more than that. We give back to the community with the organizations we're members of here."

bblackwell@semissourian.com

388-3628

Pertinent address:

14484 Highway 177, Jackson, MO

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