In line, will work: New Albany Toyota supplier

NEW ALBANY – Jason Clayton wants a job – any job – with Diversity-Vuteq, the New Albany-based Tier 1 automotive supplier that began accepting applications on Monday.
“I’m looking for 40 hours of work,” he said, “and any benefits would be helpful right now.”
Clayton was among scores of people who lined up early at the WIN Job Center mobile center outside the Union County Development Association office.
On hand to review the turnout was Diversity-Vuteq CEO Larry Crawford.
“I’ve been very pleased with the turnout so far,” he said. “We’re looking for people who are enthusiastic and hard-working.”
The company, which is a joint venture with Japan-based Vuteq, is hiring several management-level workers, plus 150 production workers.
Crawford said the company plans eventually to increase total employment to 400.
The company will make plastic components for Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi in Blue Springs, but what those exact parts will be has not been determined.
The 400 jobs also are fewer than the 630 originally announced two years ago, but UCDA Executive Director Phil Nanney said 400 jobs are not insignificant.
“It’s 400 more than we had,” he said.
In September, Union County’s unemployment rate was 11.6 percent, higher than the region’s 10.5 percent jobless rate.
And among the unemployed was Clayton, who was laid off from his welding job.
“You’d think it would be strong around here, but it’s not,” he said.
His wife, Crystal, also was applying for a Diversity-Vuteq job, even though she already has a restaurant job.
“I’m looking for something new,” she said. Having benefits and insurance would help us a lot.”
Crawford said hiring at the plant would begin in 90-120 days.
Applicants can apply at any WIN Job Center.
The mobile center, parked near the UCDA office at 135 E. Bankhead St., will be open today through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Mississippi Department of Employment Security employees can help applicants.
“Diversity-Vuteq will be able to look at the pool of applicants online and determine who to invite back for an interview,” Nanney said.
Applicants also can visit the MDES website at mdes.ms.gov to review job openings, Nanney said.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Crawford said of MDES’ application process. “We’re not equipped to handle this many people at one time. We don’t have the time or the manpower. And our HR manager isn’t even here yet.”
Diversity-Vuteq also has a facility in Princeton, Ind., where Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana produces the Highlander sport utility vehicle – the same vehicle Toyota Mississippi originally was scheduled to build.
“They’re doing what we were going to be doing in New Albany,” Crawford said.
But the company’s New Albany 190,000-square-foot building in the Martintown Industrial Park will be its main facility.
“This is the headquarters,” Crawford said. “All of our senior staff will be located in New Albany.”
Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@djournal.com

DENNIS SEID / NEMS Daily Journal