Help Wanted: Darn Tough work filling production jobs

Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 4:43 PM EST
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NORTHFIELD, Vt. (WCAX) - The pandemic has caused many manufacturers to hit snags in their production process. As part of our ongoing series on high-demand jobs, Kayla visited Northfield sock manufacturer Darn Tough Vermont, which is struggling to source raw materials and find workers.

Michael Davidson, a knitting line supervisor at Darn Tough Vermont, shows us around the production floor at their Northfield mill.

Like many manufacturers, the maker of durable, high-quality socks has had to adapt throughout the pandemic. With global supply chain issues, they can’t always get the raw materials they need.

“Does it impact? From time to time,” said Jennifer No, the company’s talent acquisition manager. “Where there is a will there is a way.”

She says a greater concern is their workforce. From its roots in Northfield, Darn Tough has grown into one of the leading wool sock manufacturers in the country, producing millions of pairs each year. With demand increasing, the business recently expanded into new facilities in Waterbury but needs to grow its 400-plus workforce.

“Have over 30 positions available right now at Darn Tough, everything from entry-level operations to the floor to managers and directors,” No said. “Join us so we can continue our growth here in Vermont.”

While they’ve had some success with hiring, No says part of the challenge for some applicants is the lack of affordable housing and services, like child care. “We have seen a decline in female applicants. Because they’re usually -- not primarily but usually -- the sole care providers for children in the household. So, single moms are impacted,” she said.

Like many companies, Darn Tough is offering enhanced benefits. “We start every employee with three weeks of paid vacation, 10 personal days. We have birthdays as paid holidays off -- medical, dental, vision, short term disability; life insurance at no contribution to the employer at three times their salary; 401K, also at no contribution from the employee at 2% of their salary,” she said. “And paid maternal and paternal leave.” And of course, discounts on socks.

Kaitlyn Wood, a knitting operator, says she actually took a pay cut to work at Darn Tough to shorten her commute. She says you don’t need any specific background or qualifications to apply -- advice for anyone thinking about changing jobs.

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