Keweenaw Report was able to reach out to Calumet Electronics’ Todd Brassard to discuss the company’s headquarters expansion and what that will mean for hiring in the area.
KR: How long have the expansion plans been in the works?
Todd Brassard: Since 2000 the electronics industry in the United States has been shrinking manufacturing, moving it offshore to Asia. To continue operating as a viable manufacturer between 2000 and 2018, Calumet Electronics remained financially careful and conservative, continually reinvested in the company, and executed a meaningful strategy to transition from commodity-based to next-gen technologies and product types. We’ve had plans for expansion for a decade, but we were waiting for the right time to execute the expansion activities that are currently underway. A time when the market was strong and our company highly competitive.
KR: What do you think it means to the Village of Calumet and Calumet Township to have a major employer growing and hiring?
Brassard: Defined in our strategic plan is the desire for Calumet Electronics to be based in a strong community. The success of Calumet Electronics is based on the company’s workforce. People who live and are raising families in the Village of Calumet, Calumet Township, Laurium, Lake Linden, Hancock, Houghton, and other surrounding communities. Their success as people and families is our success as a company. Advances in our capabilities are opening new doors for the company with the promise of making the company stronger. As Calumet Electronics grows and becomes stronger, it will be felt in the community.
KR: What are the benefits of the expansion, is it in increasing production capacity or other types of facility improvements that may have a more intangible effect for employees?
Brassard: The combination of acquiring the C&G Bath House, which we are now using as our Headquarters and Administration Building, and with the facility expansion coming on in late fall, we will have additional space for our traditional manufacturing processes (growth in manufacturing capacity), as well as needed space for Research and Development and realization of the most advanced PCBs [printed circuit boards] and IC [integrated circuit] Substrates produced in the United States (growth in manufacturing capability). Calumet Electronics will have deeper access to higher-value product types, which are not at risk of being offshored to Asia and will allow for improved profit margins.
KR: How many new hires are you looking for and how can they get in contact with you for an interview?
Brassard: Presently, we are planning to transition from running 24/5 to 24/7 over the next 12 to 18 months. The basic math says that we should need to increase our workforce by upwards of 70 people, which may be difficult to satisfy from our community. However, our strategy is to use the principles of World Class Manufacturing and cross training as much of our workforce as possible to improve the flexibility and resiliency of operations, which also results in better jobs with more variety and opportunities for career advancement. Additionally, we are working to supplement with automation to reduce the number of repetitive tasks and allowing our manufacturing operators, technicians, and engineers to focus more on the quality of our product rather than materials handling and movement.
Inquiring about career opportunities can be sent to Heath Store (firstname.lastname@example.org).