Homegrown help would be a ‘win-win’


Phil Wyssenbach

For the owners of Hillsboro Industries, hiring homegrown employees is by far the best-case scenario for their company and for Marion County and the surrounding communities.

That?s why Phil Wyssenbach, company president, has been an aggressive proponent for the new welding program that Butler Community College will begin in Hillsboro next month.

With a recent expansion of its facility, Wyssenbach said Hillsboro Industries now has the capacity to increase output by three-fold, but it will take additional employees?and more employees with advanced training?to approach that goal.

?It?s coming to the point that if we are going to grow and take advantage of our capacity, we?re going to need more people,? Wyssenbach said.

?Our options are: new technologies, such as robotics; outsourcing, where we pay somebody else to make our stuff and ship it back here; or to develop a skilled work force right here at home,? Wyssenbach said.

?We?d rather pull from local talent?people with similar values, and people who want to stay here for a long time,? he added. ?That?s been the goal from the start. It?d be a win-win, for local industry and for the local communities as well.

?The goal has never been to develop a training center just for Hillsboro Industries,? Wyssenbach said. ?People who complete the training here will have a variety of employment options. They can hire on at our company, or to Circle D, or with any other employer.

?The curriculum taught and the certificates offered will be honored by manufacturers throughout the region. It just depends on how far you want to drive, at three to four bucks a gallon.?

Wyssenbach said the new training program will also put industry to the test.

?Graduates will hopefully go to the employer that offers the best work environment, the best hourly wage, and the best potential for growth,? he said.

Wyssenbach indicated someone with the American Welding Society certificate could be earning up to $31,000 in the local market in a relatively short time.

?A lot of the welders start around $22,000 and some who?ve been in the field a few years can be making more,? he said. ?The AWS certificate can definitely enhance the employee?s perceived up-front value to any prospective company.

?It?s a lot better to take that year or two (of training) up front, and then hopefully accelerate your advancement in a good company.?

Wyssenbach admitted that over these past many months of behind-the-scenes program development, Hillsboro Industries has been a bit of a lone ranger in regard to local corporate involvement.

?There?s been good reason for that,? he said. ?It?s been a multi-year effort to get this thing off the ground, and there have been a lot of disappointments, more than we expected. We were hesitant to get a lot of people involved up front just because of that.?

He added, ?It wasn?t an effort to exclude anyone. It was really to protect them from any undue hassles until we knew this thing was at least going to be possible. Now that it?s a reality, we need to get the word out and solicit support throughout the region. Who knows what additional potential is out there??

Wyssenbach praised the commitment of Butler Community College and the City of Hillsboro to make the new program happen.

?As I?ve said, we?re not the main driver of this,? he said. ?The momentum?s been picked up by Butler Community College and by the city. I applaud them for that.

?Butler has gone way out on a limb for this thing,? he added. ?Jackie (Vietti, BCC president) has really broken through a lot of ice for us on this thing, as well as (Mayor) Delores (Dalke) and (City Administrator) Larry Paine. They all see the potential benefits.

?This is a leap of faith for all participants,? Wyssenbach added. ?You need that in order to survive in rural America today.?

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