If you think there aren’t jobs available at quality places to work in Swainsboro with competitive pay, you might not be looking in the right place. John Kolcun, president of Hotset America in Swainsboro, says the local branch of the worldwide manufacturing brand is looking to grow its 30,000-square-foot plant into an even bigger operation in the next calendar year.
Kolcun and his executive assistant, Tonya Gearheart, sat down with The Chronicle last week and gave a synopsis of the forthcoming expansion.
Specifically, the German-based company is planning to add 20,000 more square feet to the plant on Kite Road.
Today, Hotset in Swainsboro employs about 35 people, a number that has steadily increased since the brand came to town back in 2011. With the expansion, that number could grow to nearly 100—in phases.
Immediately, even before the expansion takes place, Kolcun and Gearheart said the brand is looking to fill 10 to 15 vacancies. By the end of 2022 when the new space is created, Hotset would like to see another 25 to 30 hired, followed by another 50 in 2023.
Although Hotset has been in the area for a decade, some in the community still aren’t quite sure what it is the plant produces. When asked, Kolcun explained their niche and went on to say Hotset isn’t what most would consider a typical manufacturing environment.
“As a quality-oriented outsourcing partner, Hotset creates value for our customers in facility construction, equipment manufacturing and automation processes. Based on our comprehensive engineering and production know-how as well as our expertise in thermodynamics, plastics technology, sensor technology, and control technology, we provide a broad spectrum of services—from the construction of custom control panels to the manufacturing of cable assemblies. Whether it’s one control panel to hundreds of cable assemblies, Hotset’s value-creation outsourcing enables our customers to concentrate even more on their core business,” he said.
The electrical control cabinets produced right here in Swainsboro are shipped throughout the U.S. and across the globe, although the customer base is largely focused in Canada.
Kolcun then gave The Chronicle a complete tour of the facility, and it was during this part of the meeting that he went into detail about Hotset being an outlier.
“A large percentage of the work we do here, it can’t be done by machines. It’s done by hand. We’re what I consider a ‘personnel-heavy’ manufacturing plant versus a ‘machine-heavy’ manufacturer,” he said. “It’s not loud or noisy. It’s well-lit, it’s in a climate-controlled environment, it’s not dirty… But most importantly, it’s not just a job. It’s a family here. You hear that a lot at different places, but it’s true in our case.”
Kolcun then relayed the noteworthy elements of the company he’s learned since he arrived.
With an extensive background in the field, he joined Hotset and came to lead the Swainsboro location seven years ago. In that time, he has noted great employee retention, internal promotions, as well as exponential growth here in Swainsboro (and comprehensively in the industry.)
“In addition to the literal workplace, I think what makes us different is we’re family-oriented through and through. We care about each other, and that is evidenced by the complete team effort that we share. Everyone here has the same goal, and we all pitch in to get the work done,” he continued. “Our leaders aren’t leading from an office. They’re working alongside everyone else, and that really makes a difference with morale and the team. We’re working long hours right now, six days a week except for our Christmas break, because we have so much work, but even so, everyone is in good spirits, which makes for a good environment.”
The volume of work, according to Kolcun, is expected to swell even more come the new year. Hotset has quantified the expected increase to be a whopping five times what 2021 brought, which was six times more than 2020.
“That’s another thing… A lot of industries were negatively affected by COVID in some way. I’m not saying we didn’t have employees come down with coronavirus and have to miss some time from work; that happens anywhere,” Kolcun commented. “We actually experienced more business during the pandemic, so we didn’t have to let anyone go. We might not have been producing electrical control cabinets as usual because of supply issues, but actually created other kinds of work here at Hotset, like cleaning and sanitizing and tidying up the parking lot, so that our folks would still get their 40 hours. That was so valuable during the pandemic because our people still had families to take care of and bills to pay, and we recognized that. We took precautions, but we didn’t have a shutdown. We’re proud of that, and as COVID continues to be a factor, we plan to be mindful and keep that same kind of ‘employee-first’ mentality.”
If working for Hotset sounds like something you or someone you know might be interested in, there’s more you should know.
Kolcun says the company offers benefits, including: medical (with a copay), vision, dental, short- and long-term disability, and accidental/life/dismemberment insurance, on top of 401K, vacation time, and 12 paid holidays.
Experience and formal education in the electronics/manufacturing field are surprisingly not required. This is because Hotset trains everyone who walks through the doors.
All of the new positions will be first-shift jobs, and starting pay is $16 an hour.