Originally created 01/09/98

Plant starts first wave of hiring

AIKEN -- Letters are going out this week to bring in the first wave of employees to begin training for jobs at the Bridgestone/Firestone South Carolina Co. plant.

The plant, now under construction at Sage Mill Industrial Park Annex in Graniteville, is set to begin production in the spring of 1999.

"Our goal is to begin orientation on Jan. 19," said Janet Jennings, human resources service leader, during a speech to members of the Aiken Kiwanis Club on Thursday.

Initially, service technician crew leaders, machine technician crew leaders and machine technicians will be hired to lead nine-man crews at the light truck and passenger tire manufacturing facility on Bettis Academy Road.

Those who respond to the call will begin a three-part process designed to weed out those unlikely to adjust easily to BFSC's team-oriented work place.

During Phase I of the hiring process, applicants will undergo orientation and be given a 271-item temperament test.

"It has been determined nationally that individuals making below 50 percent on the temperament test will not function well in a team environment," Ms. Jennings said.

Applicants whose scores fall in the average or above range will be called back for Phase II, which consists of a basic skills test, including sections on math, mechanics and electrical problems. At that time, they will also undergo an interview before a panel of BFSC employees and officials.

Those who survive the first two phases will be recalled for Phase III. They will then take a 10-page technical test devised by Bridgestone/Firestone.

Finally, applicants who make the grade must undergo a physical, and pass a drug screening test and a background check. Then they're on the job at Bridgestone/Firestone South Carolina.

A machine technician will earn $14 an hour. If the plant exceeds its production goal, the technician can make up to $22 an hour working swing shifts in a plant that runs 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

The first of the tire-making machinery is set to arrive at the Graniteville plant in April, and all personnel should be in the new plant before the end of 1998, Ms. Jennings said.

The $435 million facility is scheduled for full production by the spring of 1999, with a work force of 400, Ms. Jennings said.


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