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Story Archives: Interest runs high in V-Vehicle jobs
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|Interest runs high in V-Vehicle jobs|
V-Vehicle Co. announced in June it would manufacturer fuel-efficient automobiles in the former Guide plant, the company felt strongly about its decision to locate in Ouachita Parish.
Now, in October, V-Vehicle is confident it was the best decision, said David Hitchcock, director of V-Vehicle's Louisiana assembly operations.
He said the company's confidence in the decision is due to the hard-working people in the community and the leaders in local and state government who helped pave the way for V-Vehicle to begin operations here.
"We see a lot of people who work hard," said Hitchcock, a former Marine pilot. "We see it when we go out to dinner, at hotels, at rental agencies, with all the people we meet, and the people who are working at our construction site now. There's a strong worth ethic here in northeast Louisiana and that makes us feel even better about our decision."
"It's been a great experience so far," he said. "We felt like we made the right decision in June, and we're more confident we made the right decision in October."
Hitchcock spoke with The Ouachita Citizen Tuesday at the Accent Marketing building (formerly State Farm), which has served as V-Vehicle's temporary office location while expansion work is being conducted at the former Guide plant.
Last week, V-Vehicle established a web site where people could find out more about the company's hiring process. Hitchcock encouraged people interested in applying for a job at V-Vehicle to visit its web site at vvehiclelouisianajobs.com.
"That web site was put up Thursday and we've already gotten well over a thousand responses," Hitchcock said of people looking into applying for a job with V-Vehicle.
"It allows you to leave your email address, and when it's time to apply, you will get notified to come back to that web site and actually fill out the full application online," Hitchcock explained. "That's the plan for tackling the majority of hiring for the assembly workforce."
V-Vehicle plans to begin hiring in phases sometime in 2010, Hitchcock said.
"We'll hire in phases for first shift, second shift and third shift as we introduce the product to the market," he said. "So, it will take a while. We're talking about the better part of a year for all the hiring from the time we start hiring."
The first shift would employ approximately 500 people. At full production, the plant will employ approximately 1,400 people including plant managerial and support staff, assembly workers, maintenance workers and material handlers.
"There has been an enormous amount of interest since we announced in June," Hitchcock said. "Hundreds and hundreds of resumes, and every day people go by the plant looking to apply, so getting this web site up was very important."
Dozens of people venture to the former Guide plant every day to drop off resumes, but right now there is only security and construction workers on site, so no one is accepting resumes at the plant.
"This web site gives everyone the opportunity to get their name on the list and have the opportunity to apply for a job if they register on this web site," Hitchcock said.
Regarding the renovation and expansion project at the plant, Hitchcock said the work pace should pick up as the company recently finished all the preliminary permit requirements to begin work.
"Right now we're doing some demolition inside the plant to remove some of the vestiges of the previous process that was in there," he said. "There's some things in there that frankly would be in our way, so all of that stuff is being removed. There's several areas we have to clean up and they'll be doing that throughout October and into November to get that finished."
The expansion will double the size of the former Guide plant, which is now roughly 400,000 square feet. V-Vehicle will add another 400,000 manufacturing facility to the west of the existing structure. V-Vehicle officials hope to have the expansion project completed by late next summer to begin installing its manufacturing equipment. The installation of equipment could be completed by fall next year, Hitchcock said.
Full one-shift production should begin sometime in early 2011.
"We're hoping in late 2010, we'll begin pre-production vehicles," said Hitchcock. "Those vehicles will be test articles, and those also will be used to train the workers to build the vehicles. We'll put a lot of miles on them so we can make sure we find any bugs before we introduce them to the public."
V-Vehicle officials feel many people in the community and throughout Louisiana are interested in seeing a prototype of the automobiles that will be manufactured at the plant.
However, Hitchcock said, "We have to be careful about what we say just so we can maintain a competitive edge. I certainly understand the interest of everyone here in Ouachita Parish in our product, and we appreciate that, but we want them to appreciate that we're protecting everyone's interest in the company by trying to protect our competitive secrets essentially.
"We're all in this together and we need to guard our secrets at this point," he added.
V-Vehicle president and CEO Frank Varasano founded the company in 2007. The company's headquarters are in San Diego.
"It's been around for a while," Hitchcock said. "It just didn't spring up this summer. There has been a lot of work done on this project. The car design is very mature, and it didn't just happen overnight.
"He (Varasano) put together a team of experts from the auto industry, consulting world that's worked with the auto industry and other manufacturers, as well as marketing experts, and engineers. It's a big team that has been put together over the last three years, and they've been working on it for a while."
"We feel confident because it's a good idea and it's a viable plan," he added. "We think it's got a lot of potential."