Turning Cold Calls into Component Careers


Turning Cold Calls into Component Careers

CMs can expand their recruiting pool through old-fashioned legwork

“To grow our workforce, we wanted to get involved with the local high schools. I had some contacts throughout the district, but sometimes I would just call the front desk and ask for the shop teacher,” shares Justin Richardson, sales manager at Richco Structures in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. “I wanted to see if they were interested in what we offer at Richco Structures. It was really just a grassroots campaign that yielded really good results.” 

Justin underscores that this is now an annual process. “Every year we have the students come in and we show them our technical, accounting, dispatch, and manufacturing processes from start to finish,” he explains. “We don’t overlook any department because we’re consistently looking to get new people in throughout the company.”

Their approach to student tours focuses on the fundamentals of their business. “We give the students an overview of who we are and what we’re about, basically our company culture,” says Justin. “We present ourselves in a professional manner so that they buy into our company and the industry as a whole.”

Richco also developed college internships to attract students into more professional positions. The internships took some time to set up, but Richco is three for three in transitioning their interns into career employees. To be successful, Justin recommends communicating with instructors early on to discuss what an internship should entail. “It’s important to communicate with the instructor before going into a school,” says Justin. “Find out what they’re looking for students to get out of the internship process and what their goals are.”  

By discussing the details with the instructor, the students will have a better idea of what the internship will look like. “Some interns will get credits for working and we also pay them, but by talking with the teachers we know what they’re looking for,” says Justin, “and timeliness is crucial, whether it’s for colleges, the spring term or the winter term.” 

Justin adds that Richco has made changes to scheduling in order to attract, and now retain, the next generation of workers. “In our experience, work-life balance is really important to our younger employees, so we’ve made changes to how we approach work schedules,” says Justin. “We are trying to be more flexible with work hours because it’s become clear to us our younger workers value different things than previous generations.”

Current interns that are full-time employees: Jordan LaPean from Lakeshore Technical College (left) and Katy Posewitz from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.

For example, Richco allows component technicians to set their own work hours. “When employees are hired, we discuss their schedule and we’re flexible. We have employees coming in at five but another that comes in at eight thirty. We work with the employee to set a schedule that works for them.” 

Another adjustment that’s helped to attract the younger workforce and new employees is offering health care the month after they’re hired. “We start paying health care on the first day of the next month after they’re hired to demonstrate that we’re buying into them being part of our team.” 

Although Richco Structures has developed a positive relationship with local schools, the reality is that it takes time and some effort. “We all know it’s a struggle to maintain and recruit employees,” says Justin, “but you need to invest the time. It’s going to take effort. It’s going to take monetary funds. But it’s better than doing nothing. By investing time and money into local schools and tech schools, we’ve seen results.” 

For more information on student plant tours, read the article “Giving Tours to Students – CM Tips for a Tailored Tour” and the numerous case studies on SBCA’s website

About the Author: Laura Soderlund explores business and manufacturing best practices to help component manufacturers advance the use of their innovative products and grow their workforce.