Jobs plenty; takers reportedly slim

By David J. Coehrs -

Job opportunities are burgeoning in and around Fulton County, but a local recruiter said she’s frustrated that more people don’t want them.

Ohio Means Jobs of Fulton County currently lists 78 area businesses looking for help, many with multiple positions to fill. The problem, said Heather Starkweather, branch manager for the Renhill employment agency office at 222 Depot St. in Wauseon, is that very few job seekers are genuinely pursuing them.

“I wish I had the answer, because it’s horrible for us,” she said.

Displaying three pages listing about 60 business clients, Starkweather said for the past two years the agency has had difficulty filling jobs in its coverage area of Fulton, Williams, and Lucas counties. Three Wauseon companies currently have immediate needs, and a Williams County company has 12 production positions open.

The Renhill office gets about 15 applicants each week but some don’t keep their appointments. Three weeks ago, 42 applicants were scheduled but only 15 showed up. Starkweather thinks some prospective applicants may get spooked by a mandatory drug test.

“We have all of these openings, and all of our clients calling every day, saying, ‘When are you going to have somebody for us?’” she said.

It’s difficult to hear news stories about a lack of employment in some communities when her office has lots of jobs available, Starkweather said.

Office personnel will conduct “recruits” at local sites including schools, but no one attends. Advertising job opportunities through newspaper ads, fliers, and yard signs hasn’t helped.

Starkweather attributes some lack of applicants to a low unemployment rate – 5.4 percent within the last two months. But she also believes there’s a lack of work ethic. Last week, four people the agency recruited didn’t return to their jobs after the first day.

“They’re not bad jobs, they’re good jobs. They’re good companies,” she said.

Wauseon Machine and Manufacturing on County Road 15-1 is on the Ohio Means Jobs list. Multiple positions are available due to a company growth spurt, although it can be a challenge to fill them.

“As we grow, sometimes there are these specialty type positions that are cropping up,” CFO Matt Bombick said. “We want to make sure we get the right person, so sometimes that can take a little bit longer.”

Specialty jobs can run the gamut from engineering to programming to experienced toolmaker. And the company is interested in candidates committed to remaining in a position as their career develops.

“We want to give them opportunities where they can grow,” Bombick said. “It’s more of an employees’ market. The competition is higher, so it’s a higher hurdle (to find committed employees) than five years ago.”

Chief Supermarket in Wauseon is looking for new employees at a time of year when turnover is normal. Manager Peg Shaver said she needs applicants who enjoy people.

“Skills are learned. I would hire somebody with a personality over skills any day,” she said.

A candidate with a background in food service is desired, but because in-house training is conducted experience is not necessary, she said. What’s more important is a love of people and the company’s family atmosphere.

Work ethic has never been a significant problem, Shaver said. “We have a lot of college kids that are very motivated. They take the skills they learn here to whatever field they’re going into.”

Starkweather said the agency’s goal is to help people. “We want to make somebody’s life better by finding them a job,” she said.

By David J. Coehrs

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.