Hamilton manufacturer focuses on training after creating 100s of jobs

IT’S A BIG DAY FOR HAMILTON BUSINESS

Not only is the city’s largest manufacturer celebrating today the expansion of its Hamilton facilities, a new employer is opening its doors.

Barclaycard US plans to open today its new Hamilton call center at Vora Technology Park on Knightsbridge Drive. The credit card servicing business is expected to eventually create about 1,500 jobs at the Hamilton location, which will become one of the company’s four call centers in the U.S.

More than 40 new hires are supposed to start training today at Barclaycard in Hamilton, company spokesman Matthew Fields previously said.

Hiring for customer care and fraud positions will continue as operations ramp up throughout the year, Fields said. Job seekers can apply anytime online at barclaycardcareers.com.

Barclaycard is a division of United Kingdom-based Barclays Bank. Employees of the center will provide customer service support for card members who participate in co-branded credit card programs, as well as payment products featuring the Barclaycard brand, according to the company.

Meanwhile, auto supplier ThyssenKrupp Bilstein of America Inc. is celebrating today the completion of the first phase of a planned two-phase expansion, according to the company. In honor of National Engineers Week, the event will highlight the people, processes and technology that have made Bilstein an industry leader, according to the maker of shock absorbers.

As part of the expansion and in exchange for tax breaks, the company committed to creating at least 200 new jobs by the end of 2017. Current local employment has grown to about 680 workers, according to Bilstein.

“It’s kind of like a new generation of businesses being added to the community. It really speaks to the diversity of our economic base in the city that we’ve got advanced manufacturing and white collar industries both growing at the same time,” said Jody Gunderson, economic development director of Hamilton.

— Staff Writer, Chelsey Levingston

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More than 500 new jobs have been created over the last five years at Hamilton's largest manufacturer due to a series of expansions at the automotive supplier, according to the company. But the hiring spree isn't over, said ThyssenKrupp Bilstein President and Chief Executive Officer Fabian Schmahl.

“Every opportunity is available in our company,” Schmahl said about current job listings.

Employment at ThyssenKrupp Bilstein of America Inc. at 8685 Bilstein Boulevard in Hamilton has now reached approximately 680 workers, according to the company which makes shock absorbers for vehicles.

Due to ongoing hiring needs, ThyssenKrupp Bilstein is introducing new workforce development programs, which helps provide a steady supply of quality workers for the factory.

The company announced this morning plans to fund new scholarships at Miami University, Schmahl said.

Two $5,000 scholarships will be awarded to Miami University students for the next two academic years for a total of $20,000. Recipients will be nominated by the program coordinator in the Farmer School of Business and will be selected from “high-achieving” students majoring in supply chain and operations management interested in the automotive sector, according to Bilstein.

“Some companies are starting to look at universities as suppliers of important resources to them and the supply chain major, it’s the fastest growing major in the school of business here,” said Byron Finch, chair of Miami University’s management department.

Additionally, the company is finalizing plans with Hamilton High School and Cincinnati State Technical and Community College for a youth apprenticeship program to give some qualified high school seniors the opportunity to work part-time at Bilstein’s plant for a competitive wage, earn college credit, receive industry certification, and get a better understanding of advanced manufacturing, Schmahl said. The curriculum is being prepared and still needs final approval, but hopes are to begin the one-year student program at the start of the new school year in August, he said.

These efforts join ThyssenKrupp Bilstein’s programs for existing employees that offer tuition reimbursement and on-the-job training. Efforts are underway as well to create a dedicated training department in the company, he said.

“We have a lot of people who have the opportunity to move up,” Schmahl said. “Every single person who works for us has really a choice. They can also have a career. We continue to grow. We’re adding jobs on all levels.”

Also, at any given time, 10 to 15 college students from Miami University and University of Cincinnati work at the plant through a an internship/co-op program, he added.

Bilstein made the scholarship announcement today during a grand opening to help celebrate the completion of the first phase of its latest expansion. Approximately 30,000-square-feet has been added to the building. The project has also opened a new plant entrance, the parking lot was expanded, and the employee cafeteria was updated with fresh vending selections.

When plans for the current expansion were first announced in 2014, it represented Bilstein's third expansion announcement since 2011 — and its largest one yet.

Plans called for Bilstein to make an approximately $26 million total capital investment including a 60,000-square-foot building expansion to add more space on the cramped factory floor. Most of the investment was to be spent on new equipment, including more advanced and almost all customized machinery.

The second phase of construction for the current expansion project is currently in the design and planning stage and is expected to be finished by the end of the year, Schmahl said.

Thanks to the new investment, Bilstein has also started producing its latest shock absorber technology for automaker customers with improved suspension and lightweight material capabilities.

Schmahl thinks Bilstein’s German-based parent company continues to invest in Hamilton, the North American headquarters of the shock absorber business, due to the local company’s capabilities for developing new technologies; the region’s geographic location that puts Southwest Ohio within a day’s drive from most of the country; access to universities for talent; and the local operation’s proven track record now with several years of success.

“This is another step in our journey to sustainable growth here in Ohio and in Hamilton providing good jobs and I think not only jobs, but also career opportunities for employees,” he said.

Current job openings at Bilstein span all shifts and all departments, according to Schmahl. For more information and to apply, visit the plant in-person where computer stations are available to submit an application and paper applications are also an option; or go online to http://thyssenkruppusjobs.com/search and enter "Hamilton, Ohio" for the location.

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