School superintendents across Lycoming and Sullivan counties toured Stroehmann Bakeries Wednesday morning, to witness firsthand what jobs are available in the local community.
Each month the superintendents are invited by the Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce to visit a place of business once a month to see what opportunities are out there for the students after graduation. Superintendents from Williamsport, Loyalsock Township, Muncy, South Williamsport, Montgomery, Montoursville and Sullivan County were in attendance Wednesday.
The tour started with a presentation on how Stroehmann Bakeries got started and how it runs daily. Stroehmann Bakeries is owned by Bimbo Bakeries USA Inc. The presentation was given by plant manager Tina Rook and was assisted by employees of the bakery. She explained that many workers who start at Stroehmann Bakeries stay with the company and work their way up. The presentation showed that the average seniority for the bakery is slightly more than 12 years, and the average age of employees is about 46 years.
From left Dr. Don Adams, superintendent at Williamsport Area School District, and Dr. Portia Brandt, superintendent at Muncy School District, examine the rolls that they witnessed being made at Stroehmann Bakeries on Wednesday.
Rook said the bakery employees work difficult schedules. Employees will work every weekend and most holidays. The average shift is eight hours with a paid lunch and break. The starting pay is generally between $17 to $20 an hour.
The tour was given to show superintendents what kind of students Stroehmann Bakeries is looking for as employees. The educational requirement is to have at least a GED diploma to work there. The bakery is an opportunity for students who may decide not to go college.
"We have a good opportunity for those who graduate high school and want to get a job at home and stay in the area," Rook said.
The bakery has two to three recruitment events every year for people who want to work in production. The production department has annual opportunities and is the entry-level position to the bakery. People who have a good work ethic, good values and want to do a good job are what the bakery looks for when hiring in production, Rook said.
"We can teach them how to make the rolls, run the machines and the importance of quality. Those are the things we can teach, but we can't teach people to be a good, hard worker," Rook said.
"The people here are willing to share and teach the new people who come in," said George Force, plant engineer.
Transport and maintenance has had openings the past few years, because the positions are difficult to fill. Transportation positions require an employee to have their commercial driver's license, be three years clean and at least 21 years old. About 26 to 30 trailers of product are sent out from the factory each day.
The maintenance department does not require a degree, but it does require a lot of special skills. A degree in the maintenance field may help, but some of the best mechanics at the bakery learned the trade through years of experience.
"Most industrial maintenance requires a little bit of school," Rook said.
The bakery offers programs for employees who have the core skills to work in the maintenance department. The bakery will pay to have them go to Pennsylvania College of Technology to develop their skills and use them in the bakery.
After the presentation, the superintendents were given a hairnet, glasses, ear plugs and a helmet before they were given a tour inside the bakery. They witnessed how the bakery makes the rolls, step-by-step, that are seen on many of the local grocery stores' shelves.
By going through the tour, the superintendents were able to see where the job opportunities are in the local area.
"There are a lot more opportunities here than just the gas industry," said Robert Grantier, superintendent at Loyalsock Township School District.