Tribe Strength Soars in Aftermath of Wheeling Fire

May 16, 2024 | News

Just over four weeks ago, members of the Zieggy Tribe evacuated The Ziegenfelder Company production facility in Wheeling. They watched flames engulf a part of the building housing Room 1, the first production room of The Ziegenfelder Company. With fire destroying two production lines, the company’s main office and several other spaces important to the pop-making process, it was unclear when or IF pops would be made again.

“Two concerns were our employees with being able to keep them employed and working,” says Kevin Heller, Chief Operations Officer of The Ziegenfelder Company, “And the second concern was our customers and our consumers. We are now able to supply our treats and they’re able to buy them.”  

The Zieggy Tribe celebrates a week later as Wheeling’s remaining five lines in Room 2 and 3 are up and running. Tribe members and company leaders personally know what it took to achieve that major milestone.

“Not only are we rising up from the fire circumstances in Wheeling and moving that plant forward, we are also maintaining a focus on all facilities,” says Jennifer Bilcze, Talent Acquisition Manager. “We may not be completely ‘business as usual’ given our recent circumstances, but as a Tribe we are pushing to get there.”

Company leaders credit training and team building, providing support across all three plant locations with extra staffing, and enhanced strategy development and deployment.

“To ensure peak performance from all of our plants, we have all shifts over staffed,” said Jessa Stobbs, who works in the company’s human resources department. “ For example, we have extra operators and reliefs scheduled to help with rework so we are getting the highest percent out of our case counts. Some have changed shifts to help out. By changing shifts, they are meeting, working, and growing new relationships with other tribe members. Plus, we have Wheeling Tribe members working on a rotating schedule between Denver and Wheeling. This helped keep Denver staffed well and allowed our Wheeling Tribe members to continue working during the Wheeling plant rebuild. By building a stronger bridge between our three plants, our tribe members feel united as one.”

Although the exact plan for Wheeling’s rebuild seems unclear at the moment, the Zieggy Tribe is committed to facing the future together.

“Everyone is pitching in and has been doing work that may fall outside of their job description to make forward progress happen,” said Bilcze. “It’s very inspiring!”

“We will need additional production for the future to replace what we lost and also for our future growth,” said Heller. “We will put production lines in. I don’t know when yet. I don’t know exactly where in that space. We’re in that planning phase right now.”