Manufacturing demand up, help wanted in Elkhart County

Hi-Tech Housing Inc. told ABC57 News that the company needs workers now, and fast, since the demand is up for temporary housing units in light of the recent weather disasters striking across the country.

The company received a contract to produce 270 units in July, and while employees were just finishing up building those units, Hi-Tech Housing Inc. got word they need to build 500 more.

“We’re going to have to open another plant to make that happen. We’ve arranged to lease a plant in Middlebury, Indiana, and by next Friday we’re hoping to hire about 150 people,” said John Guequierre, Senior Vice President. “We need to start production immediately, and produce these units as fast as we can. There are a lot of people who need them right away.”

Guequierre said Hurricane Irene, along with flooding in the East Coast and tornadoes in the southern parts of the country, have spiked demand for the three-bedroom homes.

Current employees will work for Hi-Tech longer than expected, and the expanded production will also create office positions.

A job fair is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, September 12, and Tuesday, September 13 at the Middlebury plant, located at 10333 C.R. 2. Two forms of identification are required, along with a drug screening.

“We’re holding this job fair next week because we have to hire so many so quickly, and what we’re seeing are many people who have been in the construction trades and many cases have not had a job for over two years,” said Guequierre.

Guequierre said since the economy collapsed, production has been primarily slow. Until the July orders came in, the company was only moving the assembly line once a day.

“Now we’re moving it ten times a day. And probably at the plant we’re opening up,  we’ll move it 15 times a day, in order to meet all the requirements. That’s a big increase,” said Guequierre

But the increase could only be temporary; Guequierre said it will take several months to build the units.

Elkhart Chamber of Commerce leaders told ABC 57 it is good news, but the area is not safe just yet.

In the spring, they said several businesses were hiring, leading the unemployment rate in a positive direction. But since then, it’s gone down.

So while there are jobs available now, the Chamber hopes the trend continues, permanently.

Guequierre said he hopes demand stays high, for his company, and all local manufacturing facilities.

“We’re hoping to continue at a high rate of production for quite awhile,” he said.

Lippert Components hopes to add 100 new jobs to its Middlebury facility, if it gets tax abatements.

In LaGrange County, Cruiser RV is adding 200 jobs, and plans to hire this month.

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