Greater Hazleton provides multiple benefits for any industry that is looking to open a new facility. Among those many positive attributes is a large pool of employees with the highest level of integrity and productivity. Success in the manufacturing and logistics industry has always involved a team effort and employers consistently rank having a dedicated workforce as one of their keys to do business.
Our region’s large labor pool is just one of a number of advantages that companies cite when growing their business operation in the Hazleton area. Other benefits also include Pennsylvania’s low operating costs compared to neighboring states and the geographical proximity to major highways including Interstates 80, 81, 380 and 476.
Many local companies have found success utilizing the diverse skills of Greater Hazleton’s workforce.
American Eagle Outfitters
American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) opened a 1-million-square-foot distribution center in Humboldt Industrial Park in 2014. Director of Operations Christine Miller said the company looked at numerous locations across the country, including several in Northeastern Pennsylvania, but ultimately decided on the Hazle Township location in part because of the talent pool of skilled workers in the area who are dedicated to their jobs.
AEO Senior Human Resources Manager Sandra Sola said the company feels very fortunate to be in an area where they can consistently find a passionate and qualified workforce.
“Our associates are passionate and engaged in their work. They are innovative, collaborative and friendly and work hard to meet the needs of our customers. They possess a variety of skills including expertise in production, quality assurance and safety management. They are strong problem solvers and effective team players,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of luck finding qualified candidates for our open positions. Many of our associates have had previous work experience in distribution centers or manufacturing facilities and were able to apply their skills on day one at American Eagle Outfitters.”
The company has capitalized on the strong workforce it found in Greater Hazleton and expanded to now employ nearly 200 full-time associates in addition to approximately 1,000 seasonal employees.
“We’ve been able to develop a strong team of associates, many of whom have already been promoted,” Sola said. “We’ve seen that having a team of diverse, skilled and motivated associates has helped us to achieve a smooth transition in setting up our Hazleton distribution center and enabled us to expand our operations here.”
First Quality Nonwovens, Inc.
First Quality Nonwovens, Inc., has more than 350 workers and ranks in the top 10 in number of employees in CAN DO’s parks. Human Resources Manager Karen Buckley said what sets First Quality’s employees apart from those at other companies is their desire to find a lifelong career.
“Our team members are energetic and looking to establish themselves in a career and not just a job. Since we are also looking to build long-term employment relationships, it is a great match. As a technical company we look for those ‘go-getters’ who want to be emerging leaders in their areas, whether it is production, technical or management. Our team members value family and their impact upon their own families and their co-workers’ families and it strengthens their commitment.”
Buckley said that being team players and really investing in the company is what makes First Quality Nonwovens’ employees so strong.
“Our team members work very closely together and show what teamwork is all about. They are very strong in the concept that they can achieve more together. There is a thirst to learn. I have found that the workforce wants to know more about the background of the business and how what they do impacts others inside and outside of the company,” she said.
Tech Packaging, Inc.
Tech Packaging, Inc., built their facility in Humboldt Industrial Park less than two years ago and already employs more than 150 full-time workers and another 75 during its busy period. Bob Janes, the company’s founder and president, said he hasn’t had a problem finding qualified workers to fill available positions. “We have found great people from the Hazleton area to work for our company and 75-80 percent of those hourly workers come from Greater Hazleton,” he said.
“We chose the area in large part because of its logistics, including the proximity to Interstates 81 and 80. About 75 percent of everything we ship goes into New York or the Baltimore area for Costco warehouse stores,” Janes said. “Since our company has been experiencing such a large volume of growth, we wanted a bigger location and saw the site in Humboldt Industrial Park as perfect for our needs.”
United States Cold Storage
U.S. Cold Storage, a frozen food distribution facility, has also had success with its Hazleton location and expanded several times over the last few years. An average of 150 trucks a day transport products from the facility, with an additional amount being transported by rail.
Larry Alderfer, U.S. Cold Storage vice president of corporate development and logistics, had many positive things to say about the local workforce and Greater Hazleton.
“U.S. Cold Storage has assembled a talented, multifaceted workforce from the pool of local residents. The cooperation we have received from the local, county and state governments has been outstanding. Greater Hazleton is a special place to live and work. We found Humboldt Industrial Park an ideal location for a distribution center because of the close proximity to Interstates 81 and 80. In addition, the dynamic growth and excellent workforce in the area matched what we looked for in selecting a site for a new location,” Alderfer said.
“When we made the commitment to come to Hazle Township, we knew we would be building on a very special place in a very special community. It’s a superb location with superb people."