Casting Workshop USA 2018 March 12-13 Milwaukee WI, March 14-15 Detroit MI.

How to Recruit New Workers

Brian Sandalow, Associate Editor
Click here to see this story as it appears in the February 2018 issue of Modern Casting

As of December 2017, the U.S. unemployment rate was 4.1%. While nobody would dispute that’s a good trend for the country, it does mean recruiters and human resources managers have a much smaller pool of workers to hire.
It’s not like foundries are the only manufacturers looking to fill openings. Most companies aren’t just competing for business, they are also competing for workers.

That means metalcasters really have two choices: adapt, or move forward with potentially key spots left open.

“Don’t dismiss any idea as a bad idea. You just have to try and give it a shot even if you don’t know whether it’s going to work for you or not,” said Sharon Calahan, director of human resources, AFS Corporate Member Bremen Castings Inc. (Bremen, Indiana). “You have to be willing to do things that maybe other companies aren’t doing to attract an audience. I think diversity in your tactics is very important.”

AFS Corporate Batesville Products Inc. (Lawrenceburg, Indiana) has been effective in marketing its company and getting into the community. While it’s important to market the products, being attractive to prospective employees also matters. In the nearby Cincinnati area, Amazon is installing a main hub, and DHL is following suit. To stand out, Batesville Products pays for billboards and local radio ads and once employees apply, the company pairs the applicant with what would be the correct job for their skills.

They’ve also built a brand-new break room and added a state-of-the-art ventilation system.

The company has streamlined its application process, making it easier and quicker for potential employees to get their resumes to the right people. And as an added bonus, they’ve been able to reach out to the Millennial worker who is more used to digital resumes.

“We’ve tried to make it so anybody that is interested in working for Batesville Products can easily apply,” said Karen Weber, CFO, Batesville Products.

AFS Corporate Member Busche Performance Group has also found success with a couple different programs: an employee reward system for referring successful new recruits and in-house college courses. That’s helped since the company jumped into the casting business in 2015.

“We have been successful in finding candidates by using several different recruiting methods,” said Steffanie Southland, HR manager, Busche. “We have used billboards, radio advertising, internet job postings, employee referrals and word of mouth.” 

The reward system has attendance and performance requirements for the first 90 days of employment, but it’s a way to get current staff involved in recruitment and to also earn $500 per referral. Lori Busche, human resource manager, Busche, said an employee once earned $3,000 in a year via the program.

Busche also has invested in training and uses the program as a recruiting tool.

In essence, Busche will train workers how to work at one of their facilities. As Lori Busche said, at one point the company was looking for people who knew what CNC meant. Now, they will teach a skilled trade that brings a good wage and the possibility to move up the ladder. Taken on the employee’s own time, the 50-hour computer-based classes are on precision measurement, CNC lathe and CNC mill.

At completion of the courses, employees receive a certificate in each course and a 50 cent per hour raise.

“A lot of people like to hear they can get a career and not go to school,” Lori Busche said.

Bremen, meanwhile, used different resources to find employees.

In Northern Indiana, where Bremen’s located, the Amish will use services to be transported to places they cannot reach via horse and buggy. Bremen saw how a similar program could help them bring people from further-away locations to its facility, and inspired. At a job fair, Calahan met a disabled veteran business owner starting a transportation service for individuals with challenges getting to and from work.

This inspired Bremen’s Ride To Work program.

Now, the veteran’s company, Reveille Transpo, runs a bus for Bremen’s first and third shifts for workers coming from a homeless center in South Bend, which is about 30 miles away.

“We’re really excited about being able to help a disabled veteran business owner help people who are having challenges in their personal lives and trying to overcome some obstacles to actually be gainfully employed,” Calahan said. “Bremen Castings is benefiting in the long run as well.”

Bremen has since expanded the program to allow other employees who can reach the pick-up point at the homeless center to ride the bus to Bremen.

New Tools
Metalcasting is an evolving and ever-changing industry. It’s no surprise metalcasting recruiting is also changing with the times and taking advantage of social and digital media to find the next waves of workers.

For AFS Corporate Member Lodge Manufacturing (South Pittsburg, Tennessee), some advantages are built in.

Its cast iron cookware is world-famous and found in stores all around the country. But it’s still one company in a crowded area that provides options for jobseekers, and the name recognition of their product only goes so far.

To keep current, Lodge has a healthy and vibrant presence on social and digital media. They have a company blog that shares news and recipes. Their jobs are posted on a frequently updated website, and the positions are picked up by job-seeking websites such as Indeed.com.

Social media, said Ed Jones, Lodge’s director of organizational development, is growing in importance for the company’s recruitment.

“There has been a dramatic increase in relying on social media to recruit,” he said. “A significant percentage of applicants use social media avenues to learn about job opportunities and apply. Though we continue to use more traditional recruiting methods, we are shifting our efforts more toward social media.”

Digital and social media is also a key part of Bremen’s recruiting. They advertise their office and higher-skilled positions on Indeed. Craigslist and Facebook and LinkedIn have also emerged as fertile ground.

“We use as many resources available as we can,” Calahan said.

Lori Busche had a story about how social media has helped her. She recounted how she lost a human resources administrator right after the holidays. She went through interviews with a few applicants, but had some of her office workers post the job on Facebook.

Within half a day, Lori Busche had almost 15 resumes.

“That shows you need to be on Facebook,” she said.

Social and digital media are emerging, but they haven’t replaced the old-fashioned ways of drawing workers. BPI, which is active on social media, frequents job fairs and has relied on word-of-mouth referrals.

“We probably have as many word-of-mouth candidates coming in as we do from other areas,” said Amanda Mangold, administrative assistant, BPI. “Word-of-mouth is definitely one of the best ways to recruit.”

The Closing Pitch
Recruitment is one of the most important parts of a successful metalcasting business. And with today’s climate, it’s more crucial than ever. Jones has some advice for companies so they don’t get caught flat-footed when they need to fill an opening.

“Early planning is critical.  Begin early in the process to establish working and communication networks with agencies or recruiting sources to broadcast job openings, career opportunities and your company’s brand,” he said. “You do not need to wait until your close to the actual hiring process to move forward with this. That process should already be well established so that when it comes time to actually interview and bring candidates on board the company is well positioned for applicant flow.”

Busche has succession plans in place and on-site training is a constant across their company. That’s helped them thrive since the addition of the casting plants, and Lori Busche has some easy advice.

“Work with your employees. Get the word out to the employees that you’re hiring and what you’re hiring for,” she said. “Give them something for bringing you something.” 

Bremen, whose “status quo sucks” motto is a staple of their social media, looks at recruiting in a similar way.

“Be comfortable with doing things other people haven’t tried. Sometimes you have to take that leap of faith, give something a try and wait to see what the benefits are going to be,” Calahan said. “You have to be willing to put forth the effort and the work and reap the rewards in short order.”    

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