|Mustang hires first 20 workers|
By Jim Cooper, Editor
Mustang Survival has hired the first workers for its plant in Spencer.
P.J. Longfellow, human resources officer for the Mustang plant in Elizabeth, said the new employees would report for an orientation session next week.
"We picked 20 of the folks who attended the job fair here back in April," Longfellow said. "They all completed the interview and skills assessment that day."
Mustang announced June 25 that it would expand its Wirt County operation to the former Goodrich building in the Roane Industrial Park.
The company plans to start with 20 employees and then add another 20 each quarter for a total of 100. More jobs could be possible, Mustang officials have said.
Mustang also operates facilities in British Columbia and the state of Washington. The company is noted as an industry leader in the production of personal flotation devices, survival suits and other lifesaving apparel for customers including the military and NASA. The U.S. Coast Guard is one of Mustang's largest customers.
According to Longfellow, hiring the first Spencer workers was not difficult.
"I pulled 31 names and didn't even get to the bottom of the list," she said. "Only two people I called had gotten other employment and weren't interested. It really made my job easier."
Longfellow said she was impressed by the qualifications of the new workers.
"I think they're the cream of the crop," she said, noting that some had gained previous experience with sewing at the former Kellwood Company. "I think they'll do a lot to make the transition easier."
A trainer from the Elizabeth plant will begin working with the new employees during an orientation on Friday, July 31. Training that is expected to last six to eight weeks is scheduled to begin on Monday, Aug. 3.
Elizabeth plant manager Greg Stover, who will also oversee the new plant, said the initial work in Spencer would probably focus on making outer shells for three-layer work suits designed for extreme weather conditions.
Stover said he is pleased with improvements the Roane Economic Development Authority has made to the building in the short time since the Mustang announcement. The company is leasing the original part of the Goodrich building from the EDA for five years, with the first year at no cost. The area includes 28,000 square feet of manufacturing space and another 3,000 to 4,000 square feet of office space.
Mark Whitley, economic development director for Roane and Jackson counties, said the EDA had spent $25,000 on work including roof repairs, electrical upgrades, lighting and office cleanup.
The EDA's portion of the work has been completed. Stover said Mustang planned to have a contractor install specialized electrical hook-ups for its machinery next week.
"Everything's coming together," Stover said. "Right now, today, we're on track."