By ROGER SCHNEIDER firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — GOSHEN — A job fair held to fill jobs at Lippert Components and in other local recreational vehicle-related companies drew more than 200 people to the Old Bag Factory retail center Wednesday.
In the afternoon, dozens of people seated at small tables were bent over multi-page job applications, carefully writing down their information in preparation to getting an initial interview. Six human resources workers were lined up at the front of the cavernous former factory workroom at two tables and talking to applicants one by one.
“I am looking for a welding position,” said Tim Coffman of Mishawka, as he sat on a bench with Devan Harley, who was also applying. “I have been out of work for about a week and I have applied at about a thousand places.”
Welding positions were among those announced earlier this week by WorkOne as being in need of filling. Wages for up to 200 positions range from $9 to $12 per hour.
Coffman was looking for a welding job. The one he recently had paid $17 per hour.
WorkOne, the state’s employment agency, coordinated the fair and MBC Staffing of Goshen conducted the interviews. Neither agency would reveal what company was hiring, but some of the people who filled out applications said they were going to be called back for further interviews at Lippert Components.
Chuck Knebl, spokesman for WorkOne, said MBC also represents other Goshen-area manufacturers, including those in the recreational vehicle industry. He adjusted the number of openings being handled by the job fair to 175 to 200, from the 300 jobs listed in a news release from the agency sent out Tuesday.
He added that manufacturing is a key economic activity in northern Indiana and WorkOne’s staff has built relationships with company managers to facilitate job fairs.
“The quality work force in northern Indiana is a very important thing,” Knebl said. “It is always a good thing and a strong thing for the community when you have a hiring event.”
Lippert Components is headquartered in Elkhart and has several facilities in Goshen. The company had outstanding growth in 2013, having record sales of $1.02 billion, up $114 million over 2012 sales. Lippert is a major supplier to the recreational vehicle industry, furnishing a variety of components that are used to construct travel trailers and motorhomes. That industry also had strong growth in 2013 with a 13 percent increase in RV shipments. The industry expects strong growth this year as well.
Lorin Clipfell lives close to The Old Bag Factory and is looking for work. He walked over to apply.
“I need a job. I saw the ad at WorkOne today (for the job fair),” Clipfell said.
He has welded in the past and said he will be taking a welding test at Lippert to see if he can move on in the interview process.
Erik Griffin’s quest for five months has been to find a job. He lost his in November. The job fair gave him hope.
“I think they are pretty good,” Griffin said of his chances at landing a job. “I am excited about it.”