In 1994, international automotive manufacturer Dana Corp. opened its Elizabethtown plant, dedicated to manufacturing automotive components catering to a diverse array of automobile makers. In 2010 the facility was purchased by Metalsa. The Elizabethtown plant, serving as Metalsa’s largest U.S. facility, houses a workforce of over 2,200 permanent employees and contract workers, is one of the largest automotive manufacturers in the state of Kentucky, and one of the largest manufacturing employers in the region. To discuss career opportunities available through Metalsa, we sat down with Chief of Staff Brett Barnes and Human Development Business Partner Linda Albrecht.
As integral members of Metalsa’s Leadership Team, please tell us a little bit about the daily functions of your team, specifically, the strategies that contribute to maintaining a seamless operation concerning the attraction and retention of employees.
Brett: We’re responsible for the financial viability of the facility, but also, we’re responsible for the people who work here and their safety. We’re responsible for ensuring that they have a good quality of living, a livable wage, and that they have some level of satisfaction in not only what they do when they’re here, but the balance of having satisfaction at home. We try to optimize their time when they are here and basically try to put them in a position where they can provide for their families.
Linda: At Metalsa, we refer to our human resources department as Human Development because we don’t want to be just a resource. From hiring to training to benefits, everything is done in-house. For me, my role is about enabling all of those processes for the people we have here.
Brett: We do a great deal of internal promotions, so people have the opportunity to start out at the ground level and we help develop them. We give them avenues for extended education and training opportunities. In addition to manufacturing positions, we have opportunities in the fields of human resources, accounting, engineering and so much more. With almost 2 million square feet under-roof, we are almost a city unto ourselves.
What messaging is crucial when it comes to communicating with prospective employees?
Linda: We are upfront with new hires that the work we do here at Metalsa is not easy. When you’re making one of the most important products for one of the most recognizable vehicles in the world, there’s an intense level of responsibility that we have as a facility. However, it’s a job that’s worth it because Metalsa is genuinely a great organization. From a corporate culture, Metalsa believes in being people-oriented and emphasizing humility and respect. You then couple that with a genuinely great benefits package that helps people provide for their family while they’re here.
Brett: Community connectivity is also a big part of it. There are a lot of things that this community depends on us for, from events we host such as our community hazardous waste disposal event, to our sponsorships for community events and initiatives, to the way we have helped shape economic development in the area through our robust workforce, which is evident by the number of businesses that have propped up near the Industrial Park over the years. We know that it is about more than just us. It’s about the community and what we can give back to it.
How does Metalsa maintain such a robust workforce?
Brett: We pay a very competitive wage and we offer great benefits. We know that is what gets people in the door. The investment that you make once you’re here…you can choose to let it be just that, or you can choose to find a family in your coworkers here. Over time, it often becomes about more than just the building. It’s about the people in it.
Linda: Essentially, we offer every employee benefit you can imagine, from life insurance to medical insurance, to tuition reimbursement and paid family leave, to even a computer loan program.
How do you approach creating a welcoming environment for potential employees with limited to no prior experience in manufacturing?
Linda: We know that walking into a massive, heavily-robotized facility can be very overwhelming for people who have never worked in this field. We do have a full five-day, in-classroom orientation that exposes new hires to our processes. We are also very transparent about what to expect. You will never catch any of our recruiters selling our facility as something it’s not. At the end of the day, if an applicant’s expectations don’t match what they’re coming into, then it’s a bad fit for us and it’s a bad experience for them.
So, we make sure prospective employees are prepared for the job conceptually going in, and we also invest a great deal into on-the-job-training. In fact, we are in the process of adding 70 new personnel dedicated to that very process. We’ve also implemented a new program in which employees wear dedicated shirts indicating that they are consistently available to help new hires with any questions or concerns.
What strategies do you use to consistently enhance employee experience at Metalsa?
Linda: We have an ongoing dialogue process in which we are consistently seeking employee feedback about our processes, especially among new hires. We also host focus groups and distribute pre and post-orientation surveys to receive feedback and explore opportunities to improve.
Brett: We even find exit interviews valuable for feedback. We genuinely want to know what did and didn’t work for the employee.
Could you provide an overview of the typical timeline for the hiring process?
Linda: We really streamline the hiring process. If you put in an application, you can start as early as the next week.
Brett: We’re also flexible with employment timelines. If you’ve put in your two weeks notice at your previous job, we can put your start date on hold and onboard you as soon as you’re available.
Linda: We also do Walk-In Wednesday events every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., in which people can come in and do on-the-spot interviews and submit their application.
Brett, as someone who has worked here for 22 years, what has motivated you to remain a Metalsa team member over the years?
Brett: When you invest your time in something, it becomes more than just a job. It’s not just the work that you do, but it’s also the family atmosphere you find in the people you work with. My loyalty is a result of the investment I’ve made in this business, but also the investment it has made in me.
Metalsa is currently hiring for positions such as entry-level production technicians, fork truck operators, maintenance repair technicians and tool and die technicians. To learn more about career opportunities through Metalsa, visit metalsa.com or email email@example.com