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Step Into The Shoes Of A 42-Year Plant Veteran

Jul 11, 2016

VickiCroppedHaving worked at the same plant for more than 42 years, Vicki Wahl has had the unique opportunity of working for five different companies (Frito-Lay being the most recent), during her career. Working as a substitute teacher during the day, Vicki began working at the York, Pa. manufacturing facility making popcorn during the night shift in the 1970s. Recently, we sat down with Vicki to learn about her experiences and allow her to teach us a thing or two about her work and the changes over the years.  

 What is your role today? Today, I am a Supply Chain leader for Frito-Lay, where I am responsible for the operation of the processing and packaging departments, for potato chip and corn manufacturing. I am also a Continuous Improvement Master Trainer, which part of Frito-Lay’s Continuous Improvement process. I teach our associates how to conduct meetings, and speak to others in lecture and meeting form. Even though I no longer substitute teach, according to my father, I still became a teacher for adults.

How has your role at the plant evolved over the years? I have worked in almost every role. I was first hired as a packaging machine operator, where I made popcorn under a local potato chip company, and then became the first female supervisor at that same company. I continued working as a supervisor under the next three companies, and then was hired by Frito-Lay.

 How does working for Frito-Lay differ from the other four companies? Frito-Lay does an awesome job with communication. Instead of only reading announcements posted on the bulletin board, we have team meetings. It’s important that we’re aware of what’s taken place during the shift before, so we make sure pre-shift meetings are consistent. We also stretch before shifts. It helps us get our muscles in tone before we work and promotes physical safety on the job. We are the athletes of Frito-Lay in a way.

 What is some advice you can offer someone who wants to get into this field? First impressions are lasting. I have a quote above my desk that says, ‘When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.’ Also, ‘it doesn’t hurt to get dirty.’ Helping out your employees by sweeping the floors, shows that you’re in the trenches right alongside them.


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