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Robert Trigaux

At a Mass. plant closing, Jabil Circuit recruits area tech companies to hire workforce




The saga of St. Petersburg-based Jabil Circuit's job cuts, notably the planned shutdown of its plant in Billerica, Mass., deserves a closer look at the lessons it offers. In Billerica, they're doing things right and other downsizing companies should pay attention. Venture first brought this to reader attention in a February posting when Jabil said it would cut more than 300 jobs at that Massachusetts plant.

Plant managers did not take this event passively. When Jabil announced the closure in February, plant operations manager Bill Frake took out a half-page ad in the Boston Globe praising the workers about to lose their jobs, and asking other companies to hire them. That's the ad above. Here's the key sentence in it:

For employers wanting to hire exceptionally skilled and experienced workers with outstanding service records,Jabil strongly encourages you top contact our Human Resources department number listed below.

The strategy seems to be working for some who are losing their jobs. As reported by WBUR, Boston's NPR station, when Jabil Circuit decided to close this plant, it asked the state’s rapid response team for aid. Team leader Ken Messinahelps workers about to lose their jobs find new ones. If a company asks, Messina goes in to set up an emergency assistance center right in the plant. He says most companies are embarrassed that they have to lay people off, so they just don’t call him. This plant, he told the radio  station, has gone way above the norm.

Messina told WBUR he’d like to see more companies avail themselves of this opportunity: “We haven’t seen one of these in a long time. They’ve opened the doors to us.”

WBUR says Jabil is so happy with Messina’s work that the company has asked Massachusetts if the state might be able to provide assistance in other stateswhere Jabil is laying people off.

On a recent Friday, Messina brought in a recruiter from Raytheon to the factory. Jabil also invited iRobot and three other companies. For two hours, the closing factory held its own little job fair.

Every bit helps. It's still rough out there. Earlier this week, Jabil got downgraded by a Credit Suisse analyst who bumped Jabil to Neutral from Outperform. Its stock fell.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:25am]


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