In celebration of the milestone Friday, a luncheon was served at Lee University followed by tours of two plants where batteries are made and packaged for distribution throughout the United States and 13 foreign countries.
The local plant opened Oct. 1, 1961, on Mouse Creek Road to produce 9-volt, AA, C and D-cell batteries under the Mallory Battery name.
The name changed to Duracell in 1979 after the company was purchased by Dart Industries in 1978, which merged with Kraft in 1980. The company was bought by Gillette in 1995 and 10 years later, Proctor and Gamble bought Gillette and established Duracell as its business.
Cleveland plant manager Bill Barkley presented a brief history and milestones of the local facilities that would not have been possible without its good employees.
“One of the most important things in industry is to protect your most important asset, your people,” Barkley said.
Overall, the Cleveland facilities have gone 18 months without a reportable injury. The Mouse Creek Road facility has gone 34 months without a reportable injury.
In 1999, Duracell celebrated 3 million hours without an injury.
Global product supply director Terence Moore said injuries tend to bleed over into other parts of the manufacturing operation.
An injury-free workplace is a more energizing environment when safety is a cornerstone of production, he said.
“An excellent operation will have excellent safety performance and it shows you care about your people just like any other member of the family,” he said.
“It’s a critical part of our culture. I think people are more committed, more motivated, more energized when they can work in a safe environment. When you have to worry about injuries or the repercussions of injuries, it’s not as healthy of an environment.”
Barkley spoke briefly about Duracell’s level of giving to the community in general, but particularly, after the April 27 tornadoes.
“We are extremely proud to be a part of the Cleveland community. Our people show that everyday in the goals they try to achieve,” he said.
“It is with that spirit that we have proudly produced batteries in the Cleveland community for 50 years. It is with that spirit that we continue to live out P& G’s purpose of touching and improving more consumers’ and employees’ lives in more parts of the world more completely.”
In 1985, he said, the Mouse Creek plant began concentrating on producing “C” and “D” cell batteries.
In 1993, Duracell became the first manufacturing plant in Cleveland to be ISO certified by the International Standards Organization.
The test and packaging center was built in 1980 on Coppertop Lane and a warehouse was added in 1991. The packaging center was completely automated in 1995 and three years later, a distribution center was opened in Cleveland.
In 2001, as technology changed, the plant adopted lean manufacturing methods.
A joint proclamation was presented by Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland and Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis.
“I don’t know if Gary will be here, but I would love to be here the next 50 years when you celebrate the centennial,” Rowland said.
State Rep. Kevin Brooks presented a state proclamation to Barkley designating Oct. 1, as Cleveland Plant Duracell Day.
“I can’t think of a more wonderful place to celebrate this 50th anniversary than on this beautiful campus where there are so many buildings with copper tops,” he said.
“We are so thankful for this 50 years and we are so thankful for existing industry. New industry is getting a lot of attention, but we are thankful that you’ve been here 50 years. It is our prayer, our hope, that you stay 50 more.”
Global senior human resources leader Tim Williams said Proctor and Gamble has manufacturing operations all over the world and very few have reached the 50-year milestone.
“For us to have a plant like this to reach this goal is quite a remarkable thing,” he said. “It shows our longevity. It shows the endurance of our people and our leadership.”
Barkley said Cleveland employees are awesome in how they approach their work and community. He expects the community and the plant to grow and continue to succeed.
“It’s just tremendous passion they have for the Duracell brand and passion for our company, Proctor and Gamble,” he said.
The Cleveland plant has sister plants in LeGrange, Ga., and Lancaster, S.C., that ship the local packaging plant AA, AAA batteries for packaging and shipping to 13 foreign countries.
The Duracell story began in the early 1920s with an inventive scientist named Samuel Ruben and an eager manufacturer of tungsten filament wire named Philip Rogers Mallory.
According to the company Website, Ruben approached the P. R. Mallory Co. seeking a piece of equipment he needed for an experiment. That began a partnership which lasted until Mallory’s death in 1975.