PotashCorp – the community blessing

DERON TALLEY, EDITOR @DeRonTalley
PotashCorps’ Misty Bonfanti and Gary Hiebert stand outside of its Geismar facility.

Edwin Louis Cole once said, “The degree of loving is measured by the degree of giving.” If that’s the case, it’s safe to say PotashCorp in Geismar loves Ascension Parish to an ultimate degree as it gave about $638,000 to different entities and organizations around the parish.

In December PotashCorp, also known as PCS Nitrogen, donated $30,000 to Lakeside Primary School and $75,000 to the Ascension Council on Aging. In January, the plant donated $75,000 to the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office and $35,000 to the City of Gonzales. Those aren’t all of the beneficiaries of PotashCorp in the last year, but it’s been donations similar to those that make the plant a “community blessing.”

What’s special about PotashCorp is it isn’t just about the money; it also donates time in being part of the adopt-a-school program where it services G.W. Carver Elementary School.

Gary Hiebert, Human Resources Manager for PotashCorp, said “you’re building future leaders for the community through the education system.”

“We try to partner with the communities because that’s where we do business,” Hiebert said. “PotashCorp believes if we’re doing business here we need to help the people here.”

The plant has been on the Ascension Parish and Iberville Parish lines since 1964, although it hasn’t always been under the name PotashCorp it continues to be a good neighbor. On any given day there are 178 employees on site, and additional 250 contractors. In helping the public, some of those employees bring those in need to the plant’s leaders or those in need already know who to look to for help – Potash Corp.

Hiebert said the plants location with the two parishes makes it unique in its own way.

In helping both the Ascension and Iberville communities, Hiebert said it could be anything from helping the parish purchase an automatic sandbagging device for emergencies or the fire department purchase the “jaws of life” for vehicle accidents, “we are here to help.”

“You hate driving down the road shoveling sand in bags when they’re trying to protect their property,” Hiebert said.

PotashCorp also works with the River Parishes Community College because as the plants are expanding competition for employees get tighter and tighter and “the goal is to invest a lot of money in the employees you have.”

“We’re just trying to help develop leaders and help the people who are leading us have the right tools to do that,” Hiebert said.

PotashCorp isn’t just good at blessing the community; it’s also amongst the best in helping keep it safe. As a requirement from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), PotashCorp must have an emergency response team.

The emergency response team is trained for hazardous situations and to gauge its performance competes in Rome, Ga. annually against other plants.

Warren Stroman, General Manager for PotashCorp, said the plants decided to enhance the emergency response teams and they only way to do it is by coming together once a year and compete. The teams compete in eight drills, judged by fire department officials from around the United States.

In 2014, PotashCorp won first place for the Emergency Response Overall Competition for Fire, and finished as Medical Runner-Up.

“They have designed scenarios of emergencies that the team has to resolve,” Stroman said. “At the end of the you end up with a better team across the company.  It started about five or six years ago. Competition has stiffened, and it has drastically enhanced the teams.”

Hiebert said PotashCorp corporate target is to be one of the safest companies, and “we believe we can do it.”

Warren added, “We’re here to stay. We’re proud to say we have employees that have been here 35 years.”

Hiebert added: “ The corporation again feels strongly about doing for the community. We give money throughout the course of the year. We were fortunate last year. We had the funds and people in the community had the needs.”