rosenberg

After the flood subsides … still #RosenbergStrong

One year ago, Hurricane Harvey hovered over the Houston area, dumping more than 40 inches of rain in a four-day period and leaving thousands of homes, businesses and critical infrastructure underwater. When the floodwaters receded, Harvey had caused an estimated $125 billion in damages, making it one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history. 

The team at Frito-Lay’s plant in Rosenberg, Texas, about 30 miles southwest of Houston, sat square in the path of destruction.

“The storm came in on a Friday and was turning out to be a lot worse than anyone predicted,” said Tim Kinsinger, Rosenberg's senior site director, Frito-Lay North America. “We had to put our employees’ safety first, so we made the decision to release everyone and completely shut down the plant.”

Production wouldn’t restart for an entire week. Miraculously, the Frito-Lay facility itself was unscathed, but the surrounding area was devastated. Major roads were impassable for days, preventing most people from getting to work. More than 90 employees suffered severe damage to their homes and/or vehicles, and those who had cars had trouble finding fuel. Throughout the ordeal, the company provided hotel rooms to displaced employees and their families.

When it was time to bring the plant back online, resuming production after the abrupt shutdown wasn’t as easy as flipping a switch. The entire facility and all equipment had to be cleaned and sanitized. Plant managers asked who was able to come in, and the response was incredible.

“We had more than 150 people show up and help in any way they could – cleaning, moving boxes, whatever – whether or not it was part of their regular job,” said Tim. “It was a heroic team effort and it’s a day I’ll never forget.”

They worked tirelessly for three days straight. Volunteers grilled burgers and hot dogs for lunch. The company trucked in gasoline to ensure workers could make it home. And finally, a full seven days after shutting down, the Cheetos snack line whirred back to life, with other product lines to follow the next week.

But the challenge still wasn’t over; nearly every supermarket and convenience store in America’s fourth largest city had empty shelves waiting for Frito-Lay snacks. Over the next two months the manufacturing, warehouse and delivery teams put in herculean efforts to re-supply the region, with support from other Texas facilities. All the while, other Frito-Lay associates volunteered in the community, working at food shelters and delivering supplies to people in need. They donned special t-shirts in a show of solidarity: “Strong People + Strong Performance = #RosenbergStrong.”

It was that motto of selfless determination that saw them through those difficult months. It was the same vision that, despite the enormous setback, led the Rosenberg plant to turn in its best production numbers in years. And the vision still stands strong as the team is on track to deliver an even stronger performance in 2018.

“The struggle really brought us together as a team, as a family,” said Tim. “I wouldn’t want to go through another storm like that, but if I had to, this is the team I’d want with me.”

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