Ever wonder what they are making inside the Kimberly-Clark Global Nonwovens plant on the outskirts of Corinth that seems to be perpetually expanding?
Running nonstop, the mill produces a variety of cutting edge materials – various textiles for diaper liners and tabs, surgical gowns, disinfectant wipes and more – fabricated on machines that can stretch 300-feet long.
Some of the facility’s output doesn’t go very far – it moves next door to Kimberly-Clark Professional to become thick toweling for automotive mechanic shops and other industrial customers. The rest of the materials ship out to become finished products at other facilities.
Soon, production will increase dramatically with a $140 million expansion currently under construction at the Corinth mill, and the company plans to hire 33 people to staff the new machinery that will sit inside the 150,000 square-foot expansion.
“To me, the biggest thing is that working at Kimberly-Clark does not need to be just a job,” says Jennifer Williams, a shift coordinator with five years tenure and two promotions under her belt.
“This is a career for someone who will put in the time. That’s what we are looking for, and this is the place you’d want to do it. There’s room for growth.”
Kimberly-Clark enjoys a solid reputation as a family friendly workplace that offers opportunity for advancement, including for women and minorities. Safety is always top priority, and that has taken on new meaning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A nurse sees each employee before they enter, taking temperatures and asking about symptoms and COVID-19 exposure. Each crew is kept intact and doesn’t overlap with others to avoid cross exposure, Williams points out.
“It’s very family oriented,” noted Williams. “We realize the product we are making is going to end up in your home, as products that our babies and parents and grandparents use, so we value that.”
Her job ranges from trouble-shooting mechanical problems to training new hires, and she is big on visiting with crew members to see what they need and how they are doing.
“I love the people, honestly,” says Williams. “We work together and they can voice concerns, talk about products. I may have to escalate [an issue] higher, but they know that what they tell me has value.”
In fact, anyone can make a real difference at Kimberly-Clark, notes Torrance Pollard, an inventory coordinator who orders plastic polymers, pigments and other raw materials.
He figured out a way to create significant savings for the Corinth mill on railcar storage costs for the goods he buys.
“Everybody has the opportunity to push forward these ideas,” Pollard says. “You just do your research and take it to your boss and make it happen.”
He’s been employed at the Corinth mill since 1988, when he graduated high school and mailed a job application to Kimberly-Clark every day for a month until he got an interview.
“I didn’t have a college degree, but for a lot of people in small towns, all we look for is a chance and an opportunity,” he reflects. “I just wanted to do the best I could and to advance and I’ve been given the opportunity to do that.”
Continued expansion at the Corinth mill has sped up advancement, Williams points out.
“We’ve changed so you now only spend 90 days to six months in a role before you get an opportunity for promotion to another role,” she observes. “You could become a machine leader in one year. Before, it was two.”
More recently, Brandon Stevens joined the plant as a maintenance shift tech in April 2019. He greases rolls and bearings, changes filters, and troubleshoots electrical and mechanical issues on a machine that’s about the size of a football field.
“These are really big, complex machines,” he says. “Everybody has a strong work ethic and a different skill set and we all feed off each other. There might be something I’m not familiar with, but the next person is, and they are really good about explaining things and teaching you.”
Stevens grew up nearby and was working in Memphis when he and his wife decided to relocate the family and live on Pickwick Lake, where they are building a home. He hopes to stay at Kimberly-Clark.
“It’s kind of a relaxed environment, but it’s challenging,” he says. “The biggest challenge is gaining that ability of some of the senior guys who have been there 20, 30-plus years.”
(Applicants can find the new job listings for Kimberly-Clark’s Corinth plant on the company’s website at careersatkc.com/find-a -job, including hourly and salaried positions.)