Grede New Castle is fired up about the future, both literally and figuratively – if only the local auto parts manufacturer could find more workers.

At the March New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corp. Board meeting, members learned about the excitement Grede management has concerning future projects and, at the same time, the frustration experienced with adding employees.

“We’ve got a unique opportunity right now,” Grede Plant Manager Brad Rist said during the electronically held meeting. “We’ve got two lines. One line is running 24 hours and the other line is running 16. So we’ve got about eight hours of open capacity – and the corporate group is deciding right now whether to fill that capacity in New Castle, which I want, obviously.

“The problem that I’m having right now is I can’t get people,” Rist added. “I’m down 40 people right now. If we were full, we’d have 260. Right now, I’m trying to run on 220. And the problem isn’t people leaving. The problem is I can’t get anybody to come in to hire.”

Rist is not alone and New Castle is far from an island where the need for workers is concerned.

Shortages – particularly in skilled labor – continue to be reported, not just across Indiana but the entire nation. Rist said he’s never seen the problem this bad.

“We’ve never been this short,” he said.

Anyone in Henry County looking for a job should consider Grede, Rist said. Right now, only about a third of Grede’s 220 workers reside in the county.

“We’re trying to pull people in from Muncie, Rushville, Greensburg and Indianapolis,” Rist said. “Our wages are extremely competitive and our benefit package, I believe, is exceptional.”

Rist said training for a job on the line was minimal, with “a lot of it onsite.”

Meanwhile, skilled trade people, particularly electricians, are also in high demand.

“We’re down seven electricians now,” Rist said.

EDC members were asked for ideas and suggestions to combat the labor shortage.

“If you have any ideas with that, please let me know,” Rist said. “I don’t want to see this opportunity (to fill our eight hours of open capacity) go to waste.”

Grede New Castle has been a part of the company since 1989. Corporation-wide, Grede is celebrating a 100th anniversary this year. Grede started on Aug. 13, 1920 when Bill Grede bought Liberty foundry in Wauwatosa, Wis. He started with 40 employees.

Today, Grede operates the second largest network of iron casting capacity in North America and is a market leader in ductile iron castings and safety critical castings. The company employs 3,200 people in production, maintenance, engineering, quality, finance safety and environmental, sales and office positions. New Castle is one of eight iron foundries.

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