Originally created 01/26/00

Applicants hoping for John Deere jobs



The Georgia Department of Labor has received 304 applications for the 30 job openings that will be created when John Deere opens its second phase in November.

"The construction phase is going very well; we're actually running slightly ahead of schedule," said Don Corbitt, manager of manufacturing operations. "We'll be transferring production from the current facility to the new facility -- phased in starting from September through November."

He said the plant initially would hire 30 employees in November but would add up to 80 throughout 2001 as production increases.

The Labor Department office in Augusta received the order in November to begin screening applicants, said Gerald Carter, manager of the local office. Typically, he said, the department receives an average of five to eight applications for every job opening. But for the John Deere slots, that ratio has risen to about 10-to-1.

"When they know a company pays well, people will stretch out and apply for it even though they may not be qualified," Mr. Carter said.

The Columbia County plant will hire assembly-line technicians, a job that starts at $9.80 an hour, Mr. Carter said. The company is seeking workers 18 and older with a high school education or general equivalency diploma. He said the company generally prefers those with a stable work history when hiring.

"It's a very detailed assessment process," Mr. Corbitt said. "We look for those with good communication skills, leadership skills, teaming skills and technical skills related to assembly power train diagnostics. I think the company has a very good reputation and an excellent compensation and benefits package."

The Labor Department accepts all applications and screens out those that don't meet requirements before turning the applications over to the company for review.

John Deere's 206,000-square-foot expansion represents an estimated $23 million boost to the local economy. The plant expansion initially will create as many as 80 new jobs, with the potential of 120 more, depending on market growth, company officials have said.

Groundbreaking for the new facility was Sept. 13, with construction expected to take one year to complete. The company purchased 105 acres in Grovetown's Horizon South Industrial Park to build the new facility that will nearly double the current 280,000-square-foot operation. The new jobs will be added to the company's local work force of 250.

For Columbia County, the announcement of the expansion was the largest since John Deere first opened in 1991. Along with the proposal, the company presented five-year plans that would expand the plant and increase the work force by an additional 122. But company officials emphasized that expansion would be contingent on market demand for its line of small, gentleman-farmer tractors.

Job information

For more information about positions available at John Deere, contact the Georgia Department of Labor, 601 Greene St., or search their Web site at www.dol.state.ga.us.

ReachMelissa Hall at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 113, or ccchron@augustachronicle.com.