Jose de los Rios has worked at a Procter & Gamble toilet paper factory for almost three decades. And he's never been busier.
"We're making more Charmin and more Bounty [paper towels] than we've ever made before," de los Rios says. "We just hope that our consumers know that we are doing everything we can to keep it in the stores."
De los Rios gets a lot of ribbing about his job in Mehoopany, Pa., these days, as he walks around his neighborhood or goes jogging on a nearby trail.
"I would say at least a third or half of my neighbors stop me and ask about Charmin inventory and jokingly ask, 'Can I get them some?' "
The factory — P&G's biggest in the world — has been running nonstop in recent weeks, while also taking steps to protect employees' health from the coronavirus pandemic.
"Our most important asset in the plant is our people," de los Rios says.
The factory has staggered shift changes, limited employees' movements and required workers to sit one to a table in the break rooms.
"I got to learn a new word," de los Rios says: "de-densifying."
At first it was disruptive.
"We're social creatures," de los Rios says. "And we work closely together in a manufacturing environment. So having to stand 6 feet apart and raise your voice a little bit to be able to talk to someone in the same room is awkward."
Over time, though, and as the scope of the pandemic became more apparent, employees adjusted.
"We have not had any employee here test positive for the coronavirus," de los Rios says. "And when you consider that we have north of 2,000 employees working at the site, it's pretty remarkable."
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