Safety is paramount at Rich Products Corporation, which employs more than 8,000 people spread across North America and around the world. Associates at Rich’s manufacturing facility in Waycross, Ga., recently helped raise the bar on work safety even higher by reaching a monumental milestone for the global food solutions leader. In August, the South Georgia facility, which launched operations on Aug. 19, 2002, celebrated its tenth consecutive year with zero worker time lost due to injury. These associates certainly delivered on the Waycross plant’s motto, “Safety…That’s What We Do!!”
Converted from an old meat-processing plant, Rich’s Waycross manufacturing facility primarily makes dough-enrobed appetizers and snacks – such as breaded cheese sticks and mini stuffed-pizza slices – for the company’s Foodservice Division and its Farm Rich consumer brand.
“Our philosophy is that every day begins with safety. Safety is a huge priority and we’re very passionate about it. It’s ingrained up and down the organization,” said Rick Maddox, a company veteran and, since January 2012, Plant Manager of the Waycross facility. “Not only do we have a very conscientious associate safety team leading our efforts here, but all our people are amazingly engaged and always on the lookout – we’ve got lots of keen eyes identifying potential safety issues.”
To mark the outstanding safety achievement, Rich’s hosted its Waycross plant associates at a lunchtime celebration at the city’s historic Railway Express At The Depot. Special guests and speakers included Rich’s first Waycross Plant Manager, James Shadrick; Rick Maddox, Plant Manager, Waycross Manufacturing Facility; Darryl Burgess, Director of Environmental Health & Safety; Dave Konst, Senior Vice President, Rich’s Global Operations; and Jack Kilgore, President, Consumer Brands & Canada Divisions.
During the ceremony, the five associates employed at the facility since its doors opened in 2002 received plaques in recognition of their 10 years of outstanding safety achievement. Known internally as “the Fab Five,” they are Jason Belle, Shipping; Connie Grant, Sanitation; Ronn Music, Maintenance; Kamia “K.K.” Streeter, Production; and Anya Thomas, Production.
The Waycross facility has been diligent about keeping associate mishaps to a minimum, averaging about two minor injuries a year since 2004. The facility’s eight-member safety team spearheads the cause at the plant floor level, and the privilege of wearing the clearly identified “Waycross Safety Team” helmet is one of the workforce’s highest honors: 26 associates volunteered for the five open slots on the 2012 team.
It’s indicative of how seriously Rich’s takes safety not just in Waycross, but throughout its worldwide system, said Darryl Burgess, the company’s Director of Environmental Health & Safety.
“We don’t compromise on safety – both associate safety and food safety,” stated Burgess. “As an industry leader, Rich’s is cutting-edge on the safety front. Our focus is on being consistent with safety programs throughout our global network. As a result, we have more-stringent requirements that are applied across the board, plus the processes and training in place to ensure we meet those safety mandates. Operations in Waycross began in this kind of proactive safety mode 10 years ago. When we moved in, we designed the building and equipment to meet all local, state and federal requirements for food and associate safety.”