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Manufacturer To Double Workforce

January 30, 2014, 10:05 PM by Angela Kennecke

Manufacturer To Double Workforce

With one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, it can be a struggle to fill jobs in this area. But a new manufacturer is hoping to attract people with the skills most in demand anyway. 

Eric Gannon has 11 years of experience as a welder. But six months ago he took a job with the French Canadian company Marmen Energy.

"The pay is great. The benefits are great. The Canadians are good to work for. They've been surprisingly very friendly; from their culture, I wasn't expecting that sort of thing. I haven't worked for people like that before, so it was a bonus," Gannon said.

Marmen Energy has two additions to its new factory and completed its first full 250 foot wind tower in December. It's hired 110 workers since last May, but hopes to have 220 employees at this facility by fall. 

"Anybody who is interest to learn a trade, welding, painting, sand blasting, assembly--we can train," Pellerin said.

President Patrick Pellerin thinks Marmen's training program will set it apart. At least 15 workers from Quebec are in South Dakota every week to teach new employees. The equipment is so specialized, that even experienced welders must be retrained. 

"I think this is a big, big, big difference. We can take people with almost no experience at all and we can show them," Pellerin said.

Pellerin says the company's new location, in what he called the "wind tunnel" of the United States, will help ensure consistent business in the years to come. And the company has been impressed by the work ethic of those it’s already hired.

"People were working 60 hours a week for the first six months non-stop and no complaint, so I think that was good," Pellerin said.

"It's hard work and stuff like that, but if the people get here and see what's actually being done--it's pretty interesting and satisfying," Gannon said.

Marmen is also going into all the technical schools in the area to recruit students for these jobs, once they graduate. 

Out of all of its new hires, Marmen needs 40-50 welders. The wind tower plant hopes to be running at full capacity a year from now.

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