In a state straining to hire enough workers to sustain an expanding and evolving auto industry, mirror maker Gentex Corp. has an even tougher challenge.
Its West Michigan manufacturing base is one of the state's tightest job markets. Ottawa County, Mich., where Gentex operates, posted a 3.1 percent unemployment rate in June, the most recent month available.
That environment is a big reason the Zeeland, Mich., supplier is looking for new ways to recruit and hire people — not just for its current needs, but to support growth in the years ahead.
Its two big efforts now revolve around social media and community-based advertising. The company wants to do more than fill jobs in Zeeland — it wants to build a local reputation that will attract future workers, said Craig Piersma, Gentex director of marketing. He has hired a dedicated social media employee for the human resources department's recruiting efforts.
"The primary source of new recruits is social media," Piersma told Automotive News. "Facebook, specifically, is the way we're finding potential new employees, going hand in hand with word-of-mouth."
Gentex hires between 300 and 500 people a year. Last year it had original-equipment sales of $1.76 billion, up from $1.64 billion in 2016.
For the past year, the company's top recruitment tool is the open interviews it holds every Wednesday at its Zeeland plant. But the key to that event, Piersma says, is posting about it on social media the day before. He says it's not unusual for the dedicated Facebook post to reach between 30,000 and 60,000 people.
Gentex will typically "boost" the post, or pay a couple hundred dollars for extra reach. But employees who share the post and tag their family and friends in it are often the driving force behind the success.