Benedictine Sisters of Erie Home Home

Meet SBEC Employers

Grimm Industries

Rich Kowalski, Grimm Industries

The staff at SBEC take a ‘big picture’ approach to job placement, attending to every detail, according to Rich Kowalski, hiring coordinator at Grimm Industries, Inc., an innovative plastics product manufacturer. Located in Fairview, just beyond the bus line, Grimm Industries is not easily accessible for many inner-city residents. Transportation, then, becomes an added challenge for many potential employees enrolled in the programs at SBEC. “This issue illustrates the sort of hands-on, thoughtful screening that we have come to rely on from SBEC. Not only are the employees referred to us ready and able to work, they also have a plan for travelling here each day. ”

About 4 years ago, the senior employment coordinator at SBEC invited the vice president for human resources at Grimm to tour SBEC and learn about its mission and services. From this simple invitation has emerged a solid partnership. “We were using an employment agency at that time, with mixed results.”, explained Kowalski. ”Today, we use SBEC almost exclusively. The staff are very professional, caring and highly responsive. We have a good system worked out.”

The nature of business at Grimm presents some hiring challenges. Orders are very large and employees are needed quickly when a big order comes in. The company relies on SBEC at such times to be both responsive and knowledgeable of their staffing needs. “We’ve had some very good hires. I alert them (SBEC staff) to what I need and I go on their recommendation. Often I don’t even interview the person as I trust their judgement. It is very rare that an SBEC referral comes and can’t do the job.” This is the reliable service that SBEC employers have come to count on.

Furthermore, Kowalski acknowledges that the work at Grimm is quite cyclical and that layoffs are, unfortunately, common. “We always call our SBEC workers back when work picks up again; they have priority. However, we often discover that SBEC has found them another job!”

Many of the referrals made to Grimm are from the immigrant population at SBEC. Kowalski was very frank in saying that the first immigrant hired was a “test case”. “We had questions: how will the limited language work? What challenges will the cultural differences present? Will these individuals be reliable employees?” The risk paid off and such legitimate concerns were quickly put to rest. Whether immigrant or not, “generally we get good, solid employees from SBEC.”

“We best serve our program participants by serving our employers well.” comments Judi Jaworski, supervisor of job development at SBEC. “We strive every day to understand the hiring requirements in the community and to provide the best employee we can find for each job opportunity.” So far, this seems to be a winning formula.