Industrial and RV axle and brake manufacturer AL-KO Kober was flooded with applicants at a recent job fair to fill positions at its Elkhart, Ind., facilities. The turn-out was so high that although the fair was scheduled from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., it took AL-KO staff until 2 p.m. to process them all, according to a news release.
“The atmosphere was high-energy. It was palpable,” said Suzanne Griffin, director of human resources. “People were hopeful, arrived early and patiently waited while we tried to match people and their skills with AL-KO’s current needs. We were amazed at the number of people who came out.”
Almost 250 people applied for the 15 to 20 jobs that were posted. Nine were filled that day and 12 more in subsequent days. More new hires are still being brought in, particularly CNC machine operators, Griffin said.
AL-KO President Tim Kuppler said there are a few reasons for this expansion. “We needed to allow for early training and development of new employees for our peak season starting in March,” he stated. “We also anticipate at least 20% sales growth over the coming year as a result of substantial progress we’ve had in gaining new customers both locally and across North America.”
Both the upturn in business and new optimism within the staff are a result of a new company strategy called “The AL-KO Advantage,” they said.
“The AL-KO Advantage creates advantages for our customer base, such as new products, a parts program, marketing support and so on,” Kuppler explained. “That all leads to increased sales and sales potential, which increases activity and in turn allows us to hire more people.”
And those people appreciate it. “There’s a positive demeanor among our employees. I attribute it to the positive energy of the AL-KO Advantage strategy,” Griffin stated. “It focuses on our employees as well as our customers.”
An added bonus to this expansion, said Kuppler, is the ability to offer jobs to the local unemployed. “It’s hard to see so many of our neighbors hurting for jobs. It’s a great feeling to be able to bring folks in and get them working again.”
And indeed, as business continues to grow at AL-KO and more applicants are being called in and hired, there is a sense of relief that the recession’s grip is lessening, said Griffin. “I appreciate all the people who came out for the job fair and wish them much success with their jobs, wherever they land,” she said. “And to the many who are without jobs, I hope they land soon.”
AL-KO Kober is a full-line manufacturer of axles and brakes for cargo, industrial and RV trailer markets. Its U.S. operations are based in Elkhart, with additional manufacturing facilities in Shawnee, Okla.; Tifton, Ga.; and LaGrande, Ore. Founded in 1931 as a small welding shop, the company now has 40 companies throughout the U.S., Europe, Australia and Asia with 4,000 employees worldwide. For more information, visit www.al-kousa.com or call 574-294-6651.