Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery that is an inhumane and unsettling global crisis. In 2021, the U.S. Department of State reported 90,354 identified global victims of human trafficking with 16,554 victims reported to the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline. The three states with the highest number of cases per capita during that time were California, Texas, and Florida. In that same year, with manufacturing locations in two of those states, PGT Innovations recognized that it was in a position to make a significant impact in the fight against human trafficking.
PGT Innovations (PGTI) is not only a national leader in the premium window, door, and garage door categories, but a company that continually strives to push innovation outside of its industry. Combining that drive with the company’s three foundational values of serving, leading, and thriving means that PGTI is always searching for new ways to use their resources to act on their core values and serve their community. With one of the largest truck fleets in the state of Florida and extensive visibility on the Florida roadways, the company did just that – it saw an opportunity to save lives simply by becoming trained on how to spot the signs while on the highways.
McKenna Tanski, PGT Innovations’ Corporate Marketing Specialist, began working for the company as a Marketing Intern in 2018. At the completion of each internship at PGTI, interns are asked to present a project to the executive board on a topic they think would improve the company. McKenna presented a project on implementing an anti-trafficking cause marketing campaign.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the room,” said Jeff Jackson, President and CEO of PGT Innovations. “Her idea aligned so precisely with our values. Throughout PGTI’s more than forty-year history, our team members have continuously demonstrated a culture of care. This culture has been seen in how they help one another, how they help communities devastated by natural disasters, and now, how they help those who have fallen victim to human trafficking.”
In her presentation, McKenna shared that her passion for ending human trafficking began after witnessing it firsthand while on international mission trips and being involved in the modeling industry.
“Caring for people is part of my DNA and has been the driving factor for me to join the fight against trafficking,” said Tanski. “I believe everyone deserves freedom. Everyone deserves a voice. Once I saw the darkness of trafficking and exploitation happen right in front of me, it was an instinctual, gut reaction to do everything I could to ensure that no one ever had to experience that darkness.”
Upon completion of her internship, McKenna was hired full-time as a Marketing Specialist and was able to bring her project to life by using the company’s existing resources to aid in the fight against trafficking.
She worked closely with Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody to implement an anti-human trafficking program throughout PGT Innovation called Highway Heroes, designed to educate truck drivers on the signs of human trafficking while on the road and how to report it with the goal of apprehending traffickers and rescuing their victims.
After months of work on the project, PGT Innovations put Highway Heroes into practice, training more than 400 team members and 120 truck drivers who have logged over 4.8 million miles since becoming certified Highway Heroes.
“With the number of miles our drives travel annually and the locations our drivers visit – such as truck stops and restaurants – our team has the potential to make an incredible impact in this fight and even save lives,” said Jackson. “This project has become a passion for our entire executive team, and we are now working on rolling out training for our 5,600-plus PGTI team members. Every single person has the ability to spot the signs of human trafficking, and if enough of us work together, we can put an end to this crime against humanity. We are proud to do our part by training and educating our team, and we hope that our efforts will encourage other business and individuals to get involved, as well.”