Hello Bello in Waco
4 Nov 2021
Hollywood actors Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard celebrated the opening of their Hello Bello diaper plant Tuesday in Waco.
“We sincerely couldn’t be prouder to have planted a flag here,” Bell said. “We needed a dedicated, hardworking workforce, and our co-founders (co-CEOs Sean Kane and Jay McGraw) are from Texas and they suggested it.”
The 312,000-square-foot diaper plant at 2101 Texas Central Parkway fills a facility left vacant in 2018 with the departure of Domtar Personal Care, which also made diapers. Hello Bello pledged to invest $31 million in the space it is leasing and to fill at least 110 jobs paying a minimum of $15 per hour, in exchange for a $2.5 million economic development grant from Waco and McLennan County. In addition to diapers, the plant will produce wipes and other infant-care products.
The plant has one diaper machine up and running that can make 800 diapers per minute, and it will be adding three more, expected to be in service in May.
Operations manager Rusty Ables, who has been in the diaper industry more than 30 years, said a photo is taken of each diaper for quality-control purposes.
Mayor Dillon Meek attended Tuesday’s event and said bringing jobs to Waco is extremely important.
“We have worked so hard as a community to grow our economy by bringing good jobs that pay good wages to our talent,” Meek said. “Financial insecurity is complex and it impacts Waco as it does other communities and although complicated one of the greatest ways to solve for financial insecurity is by having quality jobs at livable wages.”
The new business addition will help Waco put its place on the map, he said.
“In August of this year, the Wall Street Journal ranked Waco as the seventh fastest emerging housing market in the county,” Meek said, also noting the city’s growth as a tourist spot.
“I think the world is really watching Waco right now,” Meek said.
He said Waco isn’t trying to be seen, but people keep Waco on their radar due to the values the city carries.
“People see who we are, they see what is in our DNA,” Meek said. “I call it the Waco way: people with integrity, goodness, grit and resilience, always improving, innovating and advancing. … And when I look at the company of Hello Bello, I see similar values.”
Waco City Council Member Kelly Palmer said she hopes having Bell and Shepard, and the couple’s positive image, attached to the business will add to the developments casting Waco in a positive light.
“I am hopeful that this is part of our changing narrative in Waco — that Waco is family-forward, that we care about kids, that we care about meeting people’s basic needs — and I think that is very much who Kristen and Dax show up in the world as, and I hope that becomes part of our larger narrative as opposed to some of our darker underbelly,” Palmer said. “Any good press that Waco can get is a win and hopefully it attracts other people in their circles and networks to view Waco as a viable option for business.”