Waupaca adding jobs as orders rebound

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Company to hire up to 150 new workers; will return to eight-hour schedule

By Vince Luecke

TELL CITY - Perry County's largest employer will add up to 150 jobs in the next six months as it responds to an increase in orders and returns to an eight-hour work schedule.

"We've seen a definite uptick in orders, both in the automotive and agriculture sectors, and that means more work within the plant," Ed Zellers, personnel manager for ThyssenKrupp Waupaca's Tell City foundry, said last week.

The gray-iron and ductile-iron foundry makes a range of brake, drum and other castings for automobiles, light- and heavy-duty trucks and semis. It also makes castings that go into agriculture and construction equipment.

Like most companies whose products go into new cars and trucks, Waupaca was impacted by the economic slowdown over the past two years and shed jobs as Americans purchased fewer vehicles.

The company idled its Etowah, Tenn., facility several months ago as the recession deepened. But now with demand for its castings growing, it will add employees to its current 800-person work force.

Zellers predicted the number of employees could climb to around 940 within the next six months.

He said orders for parts used in tractor-trailers and other heavy-duty trucks has been growing and he hoped that was a sign of future growth "since that's an important product for us here."

The foundry will also return to an eight-hour shift for production workers. Employees have been working 12-hour shifts since a layoff in 2009. Zellers hopes the reduced schedule will increase the number of applicants.

"Some people aren't able or don't care to work a 12-hour shift so we hope returning to eight hours will be an inducement for applicants," he said.

The change in schedules will take place by department, beginning with employees handling castings ready for shipment to customers. "We'll make the change a department at a time, initially focusing in our finishing room where we finish and prepare castings for shipment. That's where some of the most difficult work is," Zellers said.

ThyssenKrupp Waupaca is currently seeking applicants for production employees, as well as mechanical and electrical positions.

Applications are accepted weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the foundry located off of Indiana 66. Resumes can also be mailed to ThyssenKrupp Waupaca, Human Resources Manager, 9856 Indiana 66, Tell City, IN 47586.

Zellers said the company will also hire college students on summer vacation as well as high-school graduates bound for college in the fall. Applicants must be at least 18 years old. Summer workers will fill openings in day and night shifts.