PERRY TWP. Ohio Gratings executives are inviting the community to tour the company's facilities on Saturday — in hopes dozens of people will leave with jobs.
The manufacturing company would like to hire about 60 people across positions ranging from entry level to supervisor. An open job fair will be held from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at 5299 Southway St. SW. No reservations are required.
John Bartley, president and CEO of the company, said employees of Ohio Gratings are excited about what they do. And maybe, if they bring people onto the campus, they'll "catch the bug like we have."
The demand for workers is twofold: There are existing open spots that haven't been filled, and the company is preparing to move a unit from one building to another that will create a need for more people. The change is part of a project that's pumped $18 million in capital investment into the company during the past two years.
There are some office jobs available, but many of the open jobs are related to metals manufacturing. The company does grating design, manufacturing and fabrication and has shipped custom-made pieces across the globe.
Qualifications for entry-level positions are minimal — basically, the ability to read a tape measure. Other positions, such as welder, are more skilled. But Ohio Gratings has hired several people who didn't have any training and trained them on the job.
Manufacturing is one of the industries that's targeted through Stark County's economic development initiative Strengthening Stark, mainly because of its potential for growth. Strategies are centered around hosting roundtables to better connect regional leaders with business resources.
A 2019 survey by the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network showed manufacturing employs 275,000 people in Northeast Ohio and accounts for 40% of the region's gross domestic product.
Nearly every company surveyed said its workforce stayed the same or grew last year, though many companies also cited an inability to hire enough employees as the primary obstacle to growth.
But their struggle wasn't related to employee drug use — often cited anecdotally as the reason it's hard to find employees. Instead, it was attributed to a lack of work ethic, a lack of skills, and a general lack of applicants.
Other issues mentioned by leadership at Ohio Gratings included low unemployment in the Stark County area and difficulty recruiting people who actually want to work once they're on the job.
Saturday's job fair at Ohio Gratings will be the company's first hosted on location, though they have participated in job fairs held at local schools.
It's an opportunity to show the community what's going on at a company that people might not be familiar with.
Chief Operating Officer Shaun Eller said he hopes the theme of the outreach effort is that at Ohio Gratings, someone can have a career, not just a job. He worked his way up for an entry-level position, and many people have worked at the company for decades.
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