Editor's note: This story was produced in conjunction with the Latino Communities Reporting Lab.
Twelve years ago Carlos Kercado, a native of Puerto Rico, had no idea about careers in the manufacturing industry.
At that time, his friend recommended him for a job at Ulbrich Stainless Steel, an area company he has worked for ever since.
Ulbrich, a family owned business with factories and offices in Wallingford, North haven and other locations, is a global processor and distributor of stainless steel and special metals.
Kercado, a material handler, enjoys the company and the industry and recommends manufacturing to those looking to start a new career.
Because of the wide range of career opportunities at Ulbrich and other manufacturers in Connecticut, the Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce has organized a manufacturing career fair on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m at the Best Western Plus Hotel, 201 Washington Ave. Ulbrich is the main sponsor of the event.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to meet people face to face and exchange information with each other,” said Tom Curtin, Ulbrich’s corporate director of human resources. He will be at the fair to talk about effective interviewing techniques.
Among the open positions at Ulbrich are machine and utility operators. Individuals in those jobs work with various types of machinery used in manufacturing.
The company is also looking for a rolling mill operator, which will be in charge of a variety of duties in the performance of cold rolling mill set up and operation. The position requires the individual to work in close proximity to moving and cutting equipment and requires caution and adherence to safety standards.
An annealer is also needed at Ulbrich. The position requires the individual to operate continuous strip and electric and gas fired furnaces to anneal stainless steel.
In addition, the company is also looking for a material layout processor, a commercial development associate, a sales coordinator, a power platform developer and packers.
Qualified individuals include those who have a mechanical mindset and a reliable work history. Experience in manufacturing is preferred, but not required and Curtin noted the company prefers to hire individuals who are good team players.
Ulbrich employs 700 individuals in its nine facilities across the world.
The company, which has been in business for 97 years, started in Wallingford and has a turnover rate of less than one percent a year.
Curtin said Ulbrich offers a variety of benefits, including tuition reimbursement. He described the company has a welcoming and diverse culture, including a “good number” of Latino employees like Kercado.
“They do treat us like we are first and the work is second,” Kercado said. “They do really take care of us here.”
Jose Medina, also a native of Puerto Rico, is a rolling mill operator and has been at Ulbrich for almost 15 years.
He said part of his job is to roll steel with a machine to make it thinner. He started as a rolling mill helper and was later promoted to rolling mill operator.
“The company is good to work for, very family oriented,” he said. The career fair
Gary Ciarleglio, regional director of sales and relationship management for the Greater New Haven and Quinnipiac chambers of commerce, said this is the third year the Quinnipiac chamber has organized the manufacturing career fair.
“The manufacturing industry is booming right now,” he said.
A skill set is not required for all jobs in the manufacturing industry, but ASCM, a company that can help individuals to obtain or grow manufacturing skills, will be at the event, Ciarleglio said.
Workforce Alliance, which has a job center in Meriden, will be at the fair with information about its Skill Up for Manufacturing program.
Ann Harrison, communications director at Workforce Alliance, said the program focuses on teaching manufacturing skills. Workforce Alliance decided to offer the program because of the high demand for manufacturing jobs, particularly in the last six months, she added. It is not unusual for students to be offered jobs before they complete the program.
Workforce Alliance has a manufacturing class that starts July 26. Those interested in joining, can contact Jean Arnold-Barry directly at 203-867-4030 x 227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Skill Up for Manufacturing, visit https://www.workforcealliance.biz/skillup/.