Business

Kinze hiring for factory as equipment sales rise

Job fair will fill quarter of vacancies - including many who were laid off in 2016

Job seekers register during a career fair at Kinze Manufacturing in Williamsburg, Iowa, on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. In addition to an increase in agricultural machinery sales, the planter and grain cart manufacturer is hiring 100 new production employees to build the new four high-speed disc tillage piece of equipment called the Mach Till 201, 261, 331 and 401. The first and second shift workers will include assemblers, welders, robot welders, CNC, machine operators, painters and fork truck drivers. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Job seekers register during a career fair at Kinze Manufacturing in Williamsburg, Iowa, on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. In addition to an increase in agricultural machinery sales, the planter and grain cart manufacturer is hiring 100 new production employees to build the new four high-speed disc tillage piece of equipment called the Mach Till 201, 261, 331 and 401. The first and second shift workers will include assemblers, welders, robot welders, CNC, machine operators, painters and fork truck drivers. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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An Eastern Iowa agriculture-equipment manufacturer is hiring factory workers as sales continue to improve.

Kinze Manufacturing in Williamsburg, which makes planters for row-crop production and grain auger carts, is looking for assemblers, fork truck drivers, CNC operators, machine operators, powder coat painters, robot welders and welders.

“We had a very successful job fair Saturday,” said Mike Medhurst, Kinze director of human resources. “We have 100 shop floor openings to fill. I think the job fair will fill 25 percent or 30 percent of the positions.”

“We also have a number of people who have applied online and we are starting to go through those applications. It’s not too late for people to continue to apply.”

Kinze laid off 121 employees in June 2016, citing sharply reduced orders for equipment as low grain prices prompted farmers to delay purchasing new planters and grain carts.

Medhurst said the company has been able to rehire many of the laid off workers in recent months as business conditions have improved.

“Our business is swinging back in a positive direction, and we are excited about that,” he said. “The combination of our legacy business and the addition of our new high-speed tillage equipment is what is driving it.

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”We have taken the approach that we wanted to be proactive on this rebound. Even if the farm economy was going to remain stagnant, we wanted to make sure that we put things in place that will help us grow the business.”

Domestic and international equipment sales have been improving, Medhurst said.

Employers contacted for the January Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions Index cited difficulty in finding and hiring qualified workers as the greatest challenge to their business growth in 2018.

“Regional job growth continues to be restrained by the availability of qualified workers,” said Ernie Goss, director of Creighton’s Economic Forecasting Group, which compiles the monthly survey.

“Over the past 12 months, regional employment has expanded by 1.1 percent, well below U.S. nonfarm employment growth of 1.4 percent over the same period of time.”

Kinze’s Medhurst said the pay ranges from $18 per hour to $22.70 per hour, depending on the job and specific requirements. Some job offers will made this week and, depending on whether they need to give notice to their current employer, workers could be on the job as soon as Monday morning, he added.

“We need them, so as fast as I can get them in the door, that’s what we will do.”

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