Many companies across the southwest metro are facing the same issue.
It’s tough to attract and maintain good quality workers, said SouthWest Metro Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Filipek. That’s especially true for many manufacturing companies.
To help employers find the right people and to talk about struggles in the industry, the chamber is putting on the Southwest Metro Manufacturing forum, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4. Part of Peavey Road in northern Chaska, off of Highway 41, will be closed to traffic for the public and free event.
“Manufacturing is a big part of our community,” Filipek said. “This is our way to support and highlight the impact that they have.”
Last year marked the first time the chamber hosted the forum and this year Filipek estimates there will be 100-150 people attending. There will also be two food trucks.
Recruiters looking to fill positions will discuss an array of different jobs available to anyone interested. Some openings require college degrees, while others are entry level positions with on-the-job training.
In a tight labor market with low unemployment, many of the companies are also offering hiring incentives, such as bonuses, help with student loans and good work culture, Filipek added. He estimates there will be 14-15 companies at the forum.
Those companies, range from small family-owned organizations with around 40-50 employees to Emerson Electric in Chanhassen which employs 500-1,000 people.
For Biolyph, finding people who are interested in working in manufacturing is the main reason the company is sending out employees to the forum.
“That's our main and only goal, we are growing and we are looking to expand our production staff — that’s the biggest reason we are going to be attending,” said Jamie Burk, human resource manager at Biolyph.
The company produces medical diagnostic tests for human health, animal health and food safety and is looking to add 15-20 people to its staff.
Business has been booming for Biolyph, which is located in northern Chaska near the Chanhassen border.
Last year the Chaska City Council approved a two-story 44,000-square-foot addition for Biolyph.
Biolyph is in an industry where there aren’t many businesses, Burk said, adding that they increased their customer base and now have more orders.
The company is principally looking for production associates. Burk advises that a good candidate for the entry-level job would need to be highly detailed, have good hand-eye coordination, have the ability to follow directions well, have good communication and be dependable and functional.
“I think most companies are struggling because of the employment rate,” Burk said. So Biolyph has added some incentives to attract quality workers, including allowing employees to work four 10-hour shifts so they are able to have three-day weekends and a starting pay at $16 an hour.
Across Minnesota, the labor market has been tight.
In August, the unemployment rate in the state ticked back down to 3.3% from 3.4% the month previous, according to unemployment statistics from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
Unemployment has had an average rate of 3.24% between January and August.
The U.S. Federal Reserve estimates a normal long-term rate of unemployment ranges between 3.75 to 4.5%.
Having a two-year technical machining degree would help a candidate obtain a position at Roberts Automatic in Chanhassen, said Production Foreman Pat Eliason.
The small family owned business employs about 50 people and is always looking for good candidates to operate machinery.
There are also entry-level positions and good candidates for those usually have good mechanical aptitude and have worked on their car in their spare time, Eliason said. At Roberts Automatic, employees produce a variety of components for devices in the hydraulic industry, parts for cars and even parts used in aerospace.
The broad range in production is what helps the company remain competitive and successful.
“We’re always looking for good people,” Eliason said.
His advice for prospective employees: “People with a good, positive attitude — it helps in any trade that you’re doing.”