KRA Attracts Integra Fabrics as Workforce Partner

Three months ago, Rusty Gaskins, SCWorks/KRA Business Services Representative (BSR), and Aaron Johnson, Business Services Coordinator, Waccamaw (South Carolina) Regional Council of Governments, KRA client, met with high-ranking Integra Fabrics’ executives Terry Purcell, CEO; Debbie McArthur, President; Kelli Finney, Vice President of Administration; and Ron Swank, Director of Fabrication, at their plant in Loris.  According to Gaskins, who initiated the meeting, “Mr. Johnson and I met with the executives to explore the development of a mutually productive partnership between Integra and KRA.  During the meeting, we learned about Integra’s decision to expand production of its customized fabric-design services in the Hospitality/Tourism and Healthcare markets. Consequently, quickly locating qualified candidates for several open positions was very important to Integra, especially as a small business competing in an international market.”

Gaskins continued, “Integra needed to add some new positions to their plant operations, including a Sewing Machine Operations Supervisor, Sewing Machine Operators, a Sales Assistant, and a Receptionist, as well as Cutters and Fabric Sorters.  After discussing KRA’s wide range of workforce services, Mr. Purcell requested that we begin screening our WIA* participants immediately, as well as begin posting ads, for the new positions.  In addition to an interest in our on-the-job training [OJT] resources, Ms. McArthur, a former educator, expressed a huge desire to provide WEP [Work Experience Program] opportunities for customers enrolled in our Youth Employability and Success [YES] Program.** After we finalized job descriptions and other program details for the new positions, Mr. Johnson and I were treated to a plant tour.”

With new orders looming, KRA began the pre-hiring process immediately, with Career Agents and BSRs in high-gear, referring a significant number of pre-screened candidates for the positions. Subsequent to interviewing and more in-depth screening, offers were made to candidates for six of the open positions, four of which are profiled below:  

  • Tamara Hemingway, a YES participant, began working on June 4, 2012, as a Fabric Sorter under a WEP contract.  However, within a few weeks, Ms. McArthur informed Gaskins that Tamara was “an absolute joy to work with” and that Integra was hiring her permanently as of August 6, 2012.
  • Charles White was hired under an OJT contract as a Fabric Cutter, and began working on July 2, 2012.  Swank reported to Gaskins that, “Charles was doing a great job.”
  • Joyce Brown was hired on July 25, 2012, as a Sewing Machine Operations Supervisor, and feedback from Mr. Swank is that he “has been happy with her performance and dedication to teamwork.”
  • Marjorie Adams began working on August 13, 2012, under an OJT contract, as a Sewing Machine Operator.  Feedback from Mr. Swank has been positive, in that her training is progressing well.

Gaskins concluded, ” With some key positions now filled, Integra’s overall expansion plan will be phased in over the next 2 years or so.  Ultimately, they intend to hire 25-30 more staff, and right now KRA is assisting in the recruitment for a Junior Accountant, another Front Desk person, and a Sales position.  We are all excited about Integra’s expansion plan and the opportunity it presents for KRA, as a partner, to do all we can in fulfilling their recruitment and hiring needs over the next couple of years.”

* The WIA (Workforce Investment Act) One-Stop Career Center Program provides comprehensive workforce services for Adult/Dislocated jobseeker-customers, as well as recruitment, screening, referral, follow-up, and retention services tailored to the needs of private- and public-sector partners.  ** The YES Program introduces young jobseeker-customers to various educational and career options, including WEP participation, and equips them with the necessary skills to find and maintain meaningful employment and/or higher education opportunities.