Frito-Lay is staying true to its Texas roots by investing in the future of DFW

by Ginni Beam, Special Contributor | October 17, 2018

Even as the organization has experienced extraordinary growth, PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division has never forgotten its roots — and the unique relationship it shares with the people of North Texas. Those roots reach back to the Great Depression and a group of three innovators who scarcely could have imagined how auspicious their individual ventures would become.

Humble Beginnings, Unprecedented Success

San Antonio, Tex., 1932: Gustavo Olguin, a cook, agrees to sell an adapted potato ricer, his complete list of retail accounts (all 19 of them) and his recipe for fried corn chips to C. E. Doolin. The result is the Frito, a treat Doolin prepares in his mother’s kitchen and sells from the back of his Ford Model T. In 1933, Doolin moves the company to Dallas. Meanwhile, in Nashville, Tenn., Herman W. Lay is pioneering snack-food delivery services and making a small fortune from potato chips.

Fast-forward to 1961: The Frito Company and H.W. Lay & Company combine forces to become Frito-Lay, headquartered in Dallas; four short years later, this new business merges with the Pepsi-Cola Company, forming PepsiCo. Two years after that, Frito-Lay opens a manufacturing plant in Irving, an occasion momentous enough to warrant an appearance from silver screen icon — and PepsiCo board member — Joan Crawford. (This plant remains in operation and employs about 450 workers).

With net revenues exceeding $65 billion and a hefty portfolio of beloved brands, PepsiCo has long been a worldwide food and beverage leader. $15-billion snack food division Frito-Lay North America, which employs nearly 55,000 individuals, is a giant in its own right. And Frito-Lay remains a significant contributor to the Dallas-Fort Worth economy. The division’s headquarters are located in Plano, and more than 6,500 PepsiCo and Frito-Lay employees call the Metroplex home.

A Commitment to Community

But Frito-Lay’s legacy in Texas is much more than entrepreneurial, or a matter of local color. Through internal initiatives and key partnerships in the nonprofit sector, Frito-Lay has long supported and invested in the health, education and bright futures enjoyed by members of the DFW community.

Frito-Lay’s current leadership credits the effectiveness of their corporate responsibility initiatives to an expansive vision of corporate well-being.

“At Frito-Lay, we work to find the ways we can be most effective in our community efforts and provide meaningful impact for the people who need it the most in our community,” says Steven Williams, senior vice president, chief commercial officer, Frito-Lay North America.

This dedication to community influences every aspect of Frito-Lay’s business.

Food For Good

Frito-Lay has built innovative partnerships with nonprofit organizations across D-FW to increase access to nutritious food for low-income families. Through the PepsiCo Foundation Food for Good initiative, more than 1.2 million meals have been provided to Dallasites in need this year. Since 2009, Food for Good has provided more than 17 million meals in the state of Texas. The program offers summer and after-school meal programs as well as weekend “backpack” bundles to underserved families. Food for Good also serves as an incubator for the development of new nutritious and affordable food products.

Feed The Children

Nevertheless, millions of Americans live with food insecurity, and more than 20 percent of American children regularly go hungry. So Frito-Lay has also collaborated with Feed the Children, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending hunger. For nine years, the company has devoted resources and volunteer hours to serving families and distributing supplies at regional Feed the Children events across the country. At this year’s events alone, an estimated 16,000 families nationwide will receive daily essentials through Frito-Lay’s support of this initiative.

Employee Giving Campaign and Day of Caring

Perhaps the best encapsulation of Frito-Lay’s values is the annual PepsiCo Giving Campaign. Launched in the 1970s, the campaign is a convenient way for PepsiCo employees to give to causes and communities that are meaningful to them. The PepsiCo Foundation doubles the impact by matching all employee contributions over $25. Every year, the company raises millions of dollars through the Giving Campaign — more than $28 million in the past decade alone — and contributes countless volunteer hours to local charities and organizations.

Those volunteer hours are key, according to Vivek Sankaran, president, chief operating officer, Frito-Lay North America. “One of the best parts of Frito-Lay has always been its people,” he says. “Our employees care deeply about ensuring the community where they live and work is strong and growing.”

A longtime highlight of the Giving Campaign is Frito-Lay’s participation in the annual United Way of Metropolitan Dallas Day of Caring. At this one-day event, over 1,500 area PepsiCo and Frito-Lay employees volunteer at more than 25 United Way agencies across D-FW. As Williams notes, “Partners like the United Way are instrumental. We’ve found our annual employee giving campaign is a very effective way to channel our employees’ passion for giving back. We make it easy for them to give to the community organizations they choose — like United Way — to ensure the millions of dollars each year and the countless volunteer hours they contribute are actually making the difference they aim to make.”

The service opportunities the United Way offers Frito-Lay employees are diverse. Volunteers paint and refurbish common areas, create new landscapes, enhance play areas, assist with maintenance, and host activities for both children and seniors. Over the course of this one day, Frito-Lay associates contribute approximately 5,000 volunteer hours each year. In 2017, they also helped raise $3.4 million in funding. The impact of these efforts continues to be felt everywhere in North Texas.

The Future of Frito-Lay in D-FW

Looking to the years and decades ahead, Sankaran sees North Texas as a force that will continue to shape Frito-Lay’s culture.

“We have sites in over 200 U.S. locations, but Dallas-Fort Worth is special to us,” he says. As the region’s economy continues to grow and its borders expand, Frito-Lay is one of several corporations helping to lay a solid foundation, one that will give all residents the means they need to thrive. To learn more about Frito-Lay’s plans for the immediate future, follow FWD>DFW on social media and watch for more details in the weeks to come.

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