Job openings abound at Produced in Portage event

By BOB GAETJENS Reporter, Record-Courier
Published: 10/11/2018

Job seekers interested in good, steady work and a livable wage have manufacturers looking for them. Many of the 36 companies participating in the Portage Development Board’s first annual “Produced in Portage” expo at the NEOMED Education and Wellness Center Wednesday were looking to hire, and several said they would consider inquisitive, disciplined individuals with just a modicum of manufacturing skills for entry-level work.

Among those is East Manufacturing, located on Route 44 in Randolph Township, which is looking to hire about 60 individuals, according to Gary Brown, East Manufacturing’s vice president of manufacturing. “We’ve been working closely with a lot of vocational schools,” he said. “They’ve been great resources, but we weren’t able to fill our need.” Brown said East Manufacturing has created a welding training program for entry-level employees, aimed at building the skills necessary to become regular employees at the company’s facility.“We’ve got 12 starting Monday,” he said. He said the new employees, who have some basic tool skills and are “willing to learn and understand,” will undergo a week of intense welding training, followed by a mentorship program which could last weeks or months, depending on the individual.

In addition to the job seekers, high school and middle school students visited the event in the morning, said Portage Development Board President Brad Ehrhart. Students from Rootstown, Ravenna, Aurora, Field, Crestwood, Streetsboro, Garrettsville, Windham and Bio-Med Science Academy stopped by. Nathan Ritter, a human resources specialist with Cleveland Steel Containers in Streetsboro, said he was pleased to talk to students. “We’re working with the schools and vocational systems to spread the word to let them know there is a need” for employees, he said. He said they may not be able to gain positions immediately but may be able to land jobs as older employees retire.

Megan Scheer, the corporate recruiting specialist with Olympic Steel, said the company has about 10 to 15 openings at Integrity Stainless, a subsidiary in Streetsboro. Although she said the company prefers individuals with a background in working with steel or in manufacturing, others will be considered. “If manufacturing is something you’d like to get into, we’d like to get you on a plant tour and see if it’s something you’d like doing,” she said. The company has machine operator, supervisor, machine maintenance and general labor positions available, added Scheer. Companywide, she said, open jobs range in pay from about $12 to $20 an hour. She said a great deal of training can take place after hire.

John Hartman, production manager at Mold-Rite Plastics, said he would consider “highly motivated people with some mechanical aptitude who are reliable and have good attitudes.” “If they’re willing to learn, we’re willing to teach,” he said. “There are companies like ours that will help you get to the next level. It’s a very rewarding experience.”

Ehrhart said the first annual “Produced in Portage” event will not be the last. “We’re going to do it next year,” he said. “We’re hoping to get some input from the schools and businesses to see what we can improve on.” The area high school students visited The NEW Center in the morning, followed by 1-3 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. sessions for job seekers and other adults hoping to learn more about area manufacturers.

Reporter Bob Gaetjens can be reached at 330-541-9440, bgaetjens@recordpub.com or @bobgaetjens_rpc.