Fawn Bringold of Peck spot welds a steel assembly at Kube Tech Molding, in Yale. She’s in two trends: The resurgence in factory hiring and the growing practice of hiring through temp agencies.
“Right now we’re seeing general growth across all sectors, but the primary sector for growth is manufacturing and specifically automotive manufacturing,” said Dan Casey, chief executive officer of the St. Clair County Economic Development Alliance.
The current optimism about the manufacturing industry is almost a 180-degree turn from three and a half years ago.
“Things were bad for a while,” said Wendy Langolf, human resources director at Engineered Plastic Components, which has locations in Marysville and St. Clair. “But you can definitely see an uptick in the ordering now, especially from the Big Three.”
In 2008, manufacturing shops — particularly automotive suppliers — began closing up or laying off employees in droves following the downturn of the Big Three automakers.
St. Clair County manufacturers alone shed 3,963 jobs between 2008 and 2009. With the Big Three on the mend, local suppliers are on their way back.
Strength in experience and location
St. Clair County manufacturers work in a variety of industries, from tool and die and injection molding to metal stamping and assembly, but two common threads unite them all when Casey pitches the area as a great place to expand.
“Our edge is that we have an available work force for manufacturing,” he said. “And our wage structure is a bit lower, which makes us more competitive for companies that are looking to hire new employees.”
Langolf said she looks for people with previous manufacturing experience to put on the floor at Engineered Plastic Components — and she doesn’t have a problem finding them.
“Our employees are press operators, and we try to find experienced operators,” she said. “Because of all of the layoffs and bankruptcies, there are a lot of qualified employees out there.”