Company capitalizes on Vermont recreation to recruit workers

By  | 

LYNDONVILLE, Vt. (WCAX) You know Vermont's population is shrinking and the state is growing older. We've been reporting about it for more than a decade.

Thursday, the governor cited labor force statistics. In 2009, Vermont had more than 358,000 workers. Now, we have 345,000. That's 13,000 fewer people working or looking for work.

In his inaugural address, Gov. Phil Scott talked about how we needed more workers and highlighted a success story.

"Someone shared that Precision Composites in Lyndonville wasn't having any trouble filling positions, even engineers. Now, that got my attention. Because just the week before, I was at Collins Aerospace in Vergennes and they said they were looking to hire 25 engineers but were struggling to do so," said Scott, R-Vermont.

So what is Precision Composites and what are they doing right? Our Dom Amato caught up with company executives to learn about their recruitment strategy.

Precision Composites makes composite material used in rowing oars, CT scanners and MRI machines. They do it in Caledonia County, where the workforce shrank 13 percent since its peak

So how do they do it? The president of Precision Composites says you just have to target the right people.

"This past summer was my first in Vermont and I fell in love with it," John Aubrecht said.

Aubrecht moved to Vermont from the Cape Cod area to become a design engineer at Precision Composites. He always skied in Vermont but didn't know about the mountain biking scene in the Northeast Kingdom.

"Now, my summer is based around mountain biking," Aubrecht said.

"The support of Kingdom Trails creating this amazing juggernaut. Hey, it's helping us out," said Tim Nolan, the owner of Precision Composites.

Precision Composites employs about 20 but finding qualified candidates for open positions was difficult.

"It was challenging to find a right hook for a young man or woman to want to come here," Nolan said.

An intern mentioned how many engineers enjoyed mountain biking at his college, Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York. So, Nolan decided to post an opening to the school's mountain bike club website and mentioned the close access to Kingdom Trails.

"We just saw a stream of really, super-qualified candidates," Nolan said.

"We are known as a world-class mountain biking destination," said Lilias Ide of Kingdom Trails.

Kingdom Trails sees more than 140,000 visitors a year. Most come for the summer biking, which helps all the area businesses and now helps Precision Composites in recruiting.

"One of our big goals is to provide the economic stimulation and so right there, that is proof that we are achieving that goal," Ide said.

Nolan says highlighting area attractions is a win-win, which helped him land a qualified candidate.

"I always like to see the Massachusetts plates in the driveway when you first come here. That says, 'Hey, we snagged one from down south,'" Nolan said.

Nolan says as his company grows he plans to leverage the Kingdom Trails access, the ski mountains and Northern Vermont University in future recruiting.