GIBSONTON — As jobs in tourism, retail and food service wait for a comeback, a Hillsborough County factory is adding more than 40 positions in manufacturing and engineering.
Advanced Airfoil Components, a joint venture between Siemens and Chromalloy, opened its 210,000-square-foot factory near U.S. 41 and Big Bend Road in 2018. There it builds blades and other parts for Siemens gas turbines used in electric power generation plants.
It has about 170 employees now with plans to expand to 300 by 2023, said Nickole Watson, the company’s senior human resources business partner.
About 25 of those positions are entry-level manufacturing jobs that would be suitable for someone looking to make a career change, Watson said.
“We will take somebody and train them,” she said. The entry-level jobs don’t necessarily require manufacturing experience — at least, not to the degree that someone operating a die-cutting machine would need — but do require dexterity, being ready to lift things and being able to work on your feet for long periods of time.
Those entry-level jobs pay $10 to $11 an hour. Advanced Airfoil also is hiring for other, more skilled positions that pay more. Those include jobs in non-destructive testing, as well as engineering technicians, quality technicians, document control specialists, maintenance technicians and waste water operators.
An open castings job, Watson said, entails working with molds going into and coming out of a furnace heated to up to 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit and would thus require a much bigger skill set.
“There’s a huge range, and it’s based on skills and experience,” she said, though the company offers “opportunities to grow in your career to make upwards of $30 an hour depending on the role.”
The jobs are permanent and full time, with immediate vesting for benefits that include a 401k match of up to 4 percent and medical, vision and dental coverage. (More information is at advanced-airfoils.com/careers/.) Because of the pandemic, the company is doing virtual interviews and will issue personal protective equipment for new hires who need to work at the factory.
Manufacturing as a sector has not been immune during the pandemic. Last week, the Federal Reserve reported a 13.7 percent drop in manufacturing output during April, the largest on record. But the biggest declines were among auto makers and their suppliers. And in the Tampa Bay area, manufacturing was among the industries least affected by layoffs through the first week of April, according to an analysis by the Tampa Bay Partnership.
“We still have a lot to offer because the security of working with us is there,” Watson said. “There’s no doubt that Siemens will continue to expect to use us to provide them parts for their equipment.”
In Hillsborough County, economic development officials celebrated several manufacturing expansions or arrivals before the pandemic, including a $45 million expansion of flight-simulator maker CAE USA in Tampa and MLMC, which last year opened a $20 million Plant City facility to turn packaging waste into clean-burning fuel for industrial kilns.
Meanwhile, even as shutdowns to curb the spread of the coronavirus have eliminated more than a million jobs in Florida, a few companies continue to grow. In mid-March, St. Petersburg-based tech firm InsideOut announced plans to hire 150 employees to staff a new business-to-business sales center for T-Mobile and to work on contracts for Google, IBM and the ADP payroll company.
InsideOut has since received 800 applications and has been hiring four to five a week, including new employees who previously worked in bars and restaurants or taught yoga or pilates, company co-founder and chief revenue officer Chad Nuss said.
It’s been more of a challenge to screen applicants using virtual interviews, Nuss said, to make sure everyone gets the same level of training as employees hired before the pandemic, to make new employees feel welcome, and to deliver laptops and other office equipment through overwhelmed supply chains.
“We’ve had to change a lot of things,” he said.