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P&G Mehoopany plant celebrates 25th anniversary.

P&G Mehoopany Plant Celebrates 25th Anniversary

open house at Pennsylvania plant provided a unique opportunity to look around inside the largest diaper converting plant in the world The advertisement in the 14-page April 22, 1965 issue of the Tunkhannock Republican (10 cents a copy, $5 a year), read simply that "year round jobs with good pay and liberal benefits are available for those who possess the aptitude for jobs in the manufacturing of personal paper products."

That help wanted notice--along with a full page story welcoming "with open arms" a plan by the Charmin Paper Products Co., Cincinnati, OH, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Procter & Gamble, to build a paper products and diaper converting plant in the small town of Mehoopany, PA--was the first official announcement that big things were happening in this hamlet 35 miles from WilkesBarre, PA. Initial reports were that the facility would employ 350 people and have an annual payroll of about $2 million. Robert Kissel was the first plant manager, effective Jan. 1, 1966; he was replaced by Julian McKinnon in October, 1968.

Now, 25 years later, Procter & Gamble's largest diaper converting plant in the world took an unusual step and opened its doors to the public and the press in celebration of its silver anniversary. It provided a unique opportunity to look around inside a state-of-the-art diaper converting and paper making plant.

A Local Factory

Approximately 12,000 people from the surrounding counties (and one out-of-town editor) stopped in during the three days of celebration in mid-August. Even most of the local radio stations broadcast part of their daily shows from the site during the two day open house.

The crowd streaming into the carefully marked one mile long tour area was comprised primarily of wives, husbands, children and assorted relatives. A family atmosphere pervaded the plant, an atmosphere the company obviously works hard at promoting.

The other overwhelming feeling was one of community. The Mehoopany plant does employ more than 3000 people currently, with an annual payroll in excess of $100 million, and is responsible for much of the environment surrounding the site.

Environmental concerns were more than evident in every step of the tour, including a note that 85% of all potential waste in the plant ends up in beneficial uses either as fuel, recovered and recycled material, reused goods or compost.

"We're celebrating our 25th anniversary this year and this is our way of including the community in our celebration," said site director Mary Anne Gale. "We're very proud of our plant and we're proud of our relationship with the community." In addition to "Pampers" and "Luvs" disposable diapers, the plant produces "Charmin," "White Cloud" and "Bounty" paper products.

P&G's legendary emphasis on secrecy made the open house even more surprising; nonwovens industry was even allowed to take pictures of the tour site under the watchful eye of public relations director Joseph DeMarco. While taking pictures inside, any camera flash immediately turned dozens of employee heads and brought more than one security conscious department head scurrying to see who had breached P&G's security apparatus.

The plant itself functions a bit like a small town, where everybody knows everyone else and all employees try to keep track of what is going on elsewhere in the plant. It seemed as if every other worker at Mehoopany had already earned his or her 10 or 20 year pin.

One 15 year employee, Gordon Darling, who classified himself as a Luvs trainer from River Crest, PA, told NONWOVENS INDUSTRY how things have changed during his decade and a half tenure. "We used to just make Luvs, now we make five different versions of the same thing," he said. "My job isn't tougher, but the operations people certainly have more work because they have to change lines more frequently and try to run as low inventory as possible." Pointing to the stacks of Luvs and Pampers Phases reaching to the ceiling of the warehouse area, he said "this may look like a lot of inventory, but a lot more goes out of here than this."

Indeed, according to promotional literature available during the tour, if all the Luvs diapers that the Mehoopany plant produces were stretched end to end they could circle the earth more than 13 times. It takes the plant less than three minutes to produce enough Luvs diapers to take care of a baby's lifetime of diaper needs. It uses enough elastic each year to stretch to the moon and back. The Mehoopany plant uses more than one million pounds of absorbent material each year, which is more than 10 times the combined weights of all P&G's 60,000 employees worldwide.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Procter & Gamble
Author:Jacobsen, Michael
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Oct 1, 1991
Words:781
Previous Article:Product improvements, marketing expected to fuel continued disposables growth.
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