Telephonics’ job fair on Thursday was only supposed to last a couple of hours.
Because of a crush of job-seekers, however, the event at Telephonics’ new manufacturing facility on Corporate Drive lasted nearly twice that long.
It wasn’t until 9 p.m. that the last of the more than 150 job-seekers in attendance filed out. Telephonics extended the event to accommodate the turnout.
Many of those in attendance had pre-registered for the open house and submitted resumes in advance but others arrived with resumes in their hands.
Those with skills matching what the company needs were able to get interviews on the spot.
For those who need to build a skill set to be able to work for the aerospace communications manufacturer, there is a customized training program available through College of The Albemarle, and COA’s Rachelle Gunter was on hand to provide more information about the program.
Gunter explained that the Career Readiness Certificate program is 30 hours and involves three hours a day over 10 days.
In his weekly memo to City Council and the mayor on Friday, City Manager Rich Olson said more than 60 area residents have already obtained a Career Readiness Certificate through the program. Those interested in the program may call Gunter at 252-335-0821, ext 2229.
Jack Enright, vice president of manufacturing operations for Telephonics, said he was pleased with the strong turnout for the open house.
“We’re excited to have people actually show up who can do the work,” he said.
The entire 25,000 square feet of floor space at 120 Corporate Drive will be dedicated to manufacturing, he said. The company has an immediate need for a few employees at the site but will ramp up to 50 by the end of this year and eventually employ 75 employees at the location — and likely many more than that, he said.
“This is not a temporary job,” Enright said. “People can join us and can stay with us a long time.”
Telephonics has invested $5.5 million in the new manufacturing facility.
Christian Lockamy, economic development director for Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, said Telephonics is doing something important for the community by providing jobs for local people.
For job-seeker Mary Morris, there was a feeling of deja vu as she stood in line to check in at Telephonics’ open house. She said she previously worked at the building when it was the Gateway Bank Operations Center.
Morris worked at Gateway 13 years as a commercial loan processor. She said the expansion at Telephonics sounds like a good opportunity for people like her who are looking for a job.
“There are not a lot of job opportunities here,” said Morris, who is originally from Currituck but has lived in Elizabeth City for 36 years.
Enright said the NC Works Career Center also has done a great job of sending resumes of people who have the necessary skills and is especially promoting the jobs to veterans. Many people who have worked at Coast Guard Base Elizabeth City or served in the Navy may have the skills Telephonics needs for its manufacturing jobs.
The work requires soldering skills and must be performed with precision because of the nature of the technology the company uses, Enright explained.
“Most of it is hands-on but there is also an engineering element to this,” Enright said, explaining that a few people will be hired to do quality engineering.
George Grills was looking for one of those engineering jobs. He said he was excited about the prospect of getting a quality engineering job in the town he lives in, since there aren’t a lot of technical jobs in Elizabeth City other than at the Coast Guard Base.
Grills, who served in the Army during the Vietnam era and has been a quality manager for a lithium battery manufacturer and a quality engineer for Delphi electronics, said he and his wife moved to Elizabeth City about five years ago because she wanted to live in a historic home.
One job-seeker, who asked that his name not be used, said he works at the Coast Guard Base but wanted to check out the opportunities at Telephonics. One of his friends who used to work at the base took a job with the company and said he liked working for the firm, he said.
The opportunities at Telephonics sound good, “especially for this area,” he said.