Williamsport, PA – A year ago, Spartronics LLC came to Williamsport by purchasing Primus Industries on Reach Road. The high-tech company manufactures highly complex printed circuit board assemblies and electromechanical products for the aerospace and defense industry, medical devices, and more.
Spartronics acquired 162,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space and made Williamsport the corporate headquarters.
In total, Spartronics employs 1,700 people across the country, Vietnam and Mexico. Over 330 employees are here in Lycoming County. They report income of over $ 500 million in annual income.
On Wednesday, the company invited national and local elected officials and others to visit the facility with a direct message to convey: We recruit, we pay (really) well, we are rooted, we succeed, and we will invest in this community.
Businesses everywhere are experiencing labor shortages. While Spartronics is no exception, President and CEO Paul Fraipont knows the jobs at Spartronics are desirable and the positions can be filled.
It just takes a spark of creativity to get the point across, he said.
First of all, a tour. The manufacturing floor is bright and clean. It is populated with high-tech equipment, in which, in the past two years alone, the company has invested $ 3.2 million.
The people who operate the equipment design, manufacture, test and finalize the parts that are shipped to customers for use in combat aircraft, missile defense equipment, commercial aerospace technologies, biomedical equipment, and other applications.
The work is precise. It is “mission critical” for national defense, advances in health care, and the safety of air travel.
Second, a presentation on the dynamics of the company and the workforce. Currently, Spartronics employs a wide range of people from high school graduation to near retirement, but the workforce is aging rapidly.
“We are on the verge of losing tribal knowledge,” Fraipont said. As longtime employees seek to retire, the company is actively standardizing and recording their “tribal knowledge” – decades of best practices and hands-on experience – by creating systems to reduce the risk of losing that history.
“We need the next group of people to keep going,” Fraipont said.
The plan is to engage with area technical schools like Penn College and high schools with pre-apprenticeship programs to show the incoming workforce what types of jobs are available and what pay is available.
Beyond a “living” salary
The starting salary at Spartronics is $ 17. 47 per hour. The benefit package is “robust” and the company is community-minded, Fraipont said. “People want to see their organization involved in the community in a positive way, and we intend to do so.”
Lycoming County Commissioners Scott Metzger and Rick Mirabito attended Wednesday’s event. “There’s this image of manufacturing from old movies,” Mirabito said, referring to grim, factory-like settings, a world away from the peak feel of the Spartronics facility.
In reality, this job is anything but a factory. Spartronics employs more women than men (179 women, 129 men), in part because many tasks require dexterity and precision suited to small hands.
“We especially want to reach high school girls,” said Jason Fink, President and CEO of the Williamsport / Lycoming Chamber of Commerce. “Strengthening the workforce is a top priority for the Chamber. It took 20 years to get there, ”he said, referring to the labor shortage crisis we are currently facing.
“It won’t be fixed in a year,” he noted, but exposing students to high-paying and skilled job opportunities in the region is a good start.
According to Commissioner Metzger, to meet the needs of the local labor market, we would need everyone from the current third year class to graduates to fill the shortage. But the county’s population has seen a decline over the past 10 years, both because families are smaller and because college graduates are educated here but are leaving the area.
“What’s attractive about our region, especially now with Covid, is the ability to escape big city blockages, to relocate closer to family,” Metzger said.
Spartronics operates similar sized manufacturing facilities in Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Utah, California. “The scalability of our operations facilitates redundancy,” said Fraipont, which means that if a natural disaster or other issue affects a factory, other sites can adapt quickly to absorb the workload.
Williamsport, Fraipont said, was strategically attractive to Spartronics because of the workforce. He described a “deep-rooted community” that values the opportunity for quality jobs, is stable and dedicated to customer service.
While the industry waits for the supply chain to reopen (like literally everyone who waits for something to appear in the mail), it does not suffer from contracts; on the contrary, the growth they experienced before the pandemic is simply “strangled”.
“When things open up, it will be a flow of work on hold that our clients are waiting for,” said Fraipont.
What they need most now are the employees to do it.
Visit Spartronics Careers for a list of current job openings.