Jamie Bell spent all Thursday and Friday morning reviewing résumés.
The human resources manager for Guardian Automotive Products in Auburn is searching for the best candidates to fill 63 new positions at the auto glass manufacturing plant, 1900 S. Center St.
It takes a certain kind of person to thrive at a factory that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, she said. Employees work 12-hour shifts on a rotating schedule that gives them every other weekend off.
Guardian officials want applicants who have manufacturing and leadership experience. Managers want workers with problem-solving skills and attention to detail, Bell said.
We will teach people how to make glass, she said. We’re looking for the soft skills that make people dependable employees.
The company’s job fair Wednesday attracted almost 200 candidates for the openings. Bell identified 32 people who were obvious choices for interviews. She’s been searching through the pile of paper forms for the next wave of interviews. The company has stopped accepting applications for now.
As Bell acknowledged, it’s a good problem to have.
Business is booming at the DeKalb County operation because plant workers, managers and Guardian corporate leaders have pooled their knowledge and experience to remake the factory, increasing efficiency and production rates. The workforce of 430 is able to do more with existing equipment, especially after building up the plant’s maintenance crew and upgrading existing machines, she said.
Officials have also brought in additional equipment in recent years. Customer orders have increased, but Guardian officials declined to name which automakers buy the products.
Ken McCrory, executive director of the DeKalb County Economic Development Partnership, said Guardian is a great employer and one of several that are hiring in the area.
I think it’s a sign of the times, he said.
McCrory sees the hiring surge as a sign that an economic recovery is finally taking hold in northeast Indiana.
DeKalb County reported 5 percent unemployment in April, a half-percentage point lower than Indiana’s 5.5 percent rate. Allen and Noble counties tied DeKalb’s jobless rate that month, the most recent statistics available.
But McCrory prefers to look at employment rather than unemployment. Employment increased in April by almost 2 percentage points as compared with March and 4 percentage points as compared with April 2013, according to state numbers.
We definitely have some positive (hiring) trends in this county that we haven’t seen, McCrory said, in a long, long time.