Oliver Guether, originally from Munich, Germany, became Mehoopany Plant Manager of Procter & Gamble’s Baby Care operations in August.
It is his third time in the United States, having survived the Blizzard of 1985 as an exchange student in Buffalo, N.Y., and just after the turn into the 21st Century he had a stint with P&G at its headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio.
His wife is an American, from Ohio, and he has three children: a 20-year-old son in college, an 11-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son, both at their new home in Clarks Summit.
Guether’s resume reads like it might be filled with international intrigue, having started at P&G’s Crailsheim, Germany, site, then interspersed with stops in Cincinnati; Gebze, Turkey; Borispol, Ukraine; Budapest, Hungary; Louveira, Brazil, just outside of Sao Paulo; and now Mehoopany.
He smiles when you ask him about where Mehoopany, Pennsylvania, fits in the big picture.
“America is a very friendly place,” Guether said, “and this area of Pennsylvania reminds me a lot of Germany.”
He noted his parents who live in the southern part of Munich were coming to the area in January, and “We’re excited to be able to show them around.”
But Guether said that what excites him every day at P&G-Mehoopany is that its not only among P&G’s biggest plants, but it’s the most profitable plant in the P&G portfolio around the world and he feels honored to have been picked to guide the operation.
“We have an incredibly high capability here,” Guether said.
Noting the Mehoopany plant’s 50th birthday in 2016, he added, “This is an old plant, but there’s nothing ‘old’ in the mindset of the people who work here. The skills here are amazing.”
He acknowledged a technical mastery of people who work in Mehoopany that’s a bit higher than other places he’s worked in his 25 years with P&G.
And he confronts each day looking not at issues, but challenges.
“Everyday it’s great to be around people who want to win as a company and we are winning,” Guether said.
The Baby Care operation in Mehoopany makes primarily Pampers and Luvs diapers, and the plant brought back Splashers - a sort of Pampers swim pants that are specially designed for pool or water time.
He also spoke of a ‘Naturals’ line which is a super premium diaper that addresses environmental concerns.
Guether said that more than 90 percent of the diapers made in Mehoopany stays in the United States, with the rest headed to other unique markets.
Asked about the number of diapers made in a day in Mehoopany, and Guether smiles but refrains from giving out proprietorial information.
“Let’s just say the lines were running a lot slower 25 years ago,” Guether laughed. “Today it’s almost too fast for the eye to take it all in. The level of automation is unbelievable with modern machines taking images of every diaper coming off the lines. And we’re working on smart machines that can fine tune that even more.”
And, he pointed to a laptop computer, where he said he could look at similar P&G operations anywhere in the world.
“This is a competitive world, and there are global challenges we never dreamed possible just a few years ago,” he said, noting that when he joined the team in Brazil as plant manager in the summer of 2015, nobody there had ever heard of Amazon.
He said that while WalMart remains P&G Baby Care’s biggest customer, “We know that our smart phones and tablets can bring our customers what they want whenever they want” creating a challenge to stay on top of the end-to-end supply chain that is a far cry from the first diaper made on Mehoopany in October of 1965.
Guether said that 25 years later, when he received his Master’s degree in chemical engineering at the Technical University of Munich, he had no idea of all the places P&G would take him, and he’s been grateful for the experience that got him to Mehoopany and is looking forward to an even greater opportunities ahead.