Company with about 200 workers seeks to hire more | News, Sports, Jobs

Employees work on the Shop-Vac assembly line in Williamsport on February 16, 2022. The company has reopened under new management and is looking to fill many positions. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun Gazette

The sound of machinery inside the Shop-Vac factory at 2323 Reach Road was encouraging. The same goes for the employees who assembled the wet and dry vacuums and packed them for shipment.

Shop-Vac experienced a production hiccup after the factory was abruptly shut down by the company’s former owner in September 2020.

Last January, however, Hangzhou Equipment Holdings LLC, a subsidiary of Hangzhou GreatStar Industrial Co. Ltd., and GreatStar Tools USA, acquired substantially all of the assets of Shop-Vac Corp., the brand leaders in systems wet/dry vacuuming for consumers. and commercial users.

As part of the acquisition, GreatStar took ownership of the company’s assets, including the Williamsport plant, and hired a number of employees who were separated after the company closed.

The churning of machines and factory workers making the product line last week pleased Charlie Lawrence, Chief Operating Officer of Shop-Vac USA LLC.

During a recent tour of the facility he donated to the Sun-Gazette, Lawrence said he wanted to hire another 25 workers, an increase of around 10% in staff, adding to around 200 employees paid at the factory.

Failure to do so may delay product shipments, he said.

Hopefully that doesn’t happen, and Lawrence and his team have done what they can to make sure of that, expanding the reach with resources that can help him recruit employees.

Resources include the Sun-Gazette, use of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, business networking and membership in the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, and contacting schools such as the Pennsylvania College of Technology.

Recent mergers with other companies keep paychecks printing.

For example, within a large section of the factory, 40,000 square feet are dedicated to the manufacturing of SK Tools.

Passing the injection molding machines, a clank of metal hitting metal could be heard.

Lawrence smiled at the noise.

It involved the production of stainless steel casings deposited on a conveyor belt in a storage bin.

Behind the machine, an employee watched the process of cutting and forming the metal into the sockets used by thousands, if not millions, of carpenters, plumbers and everyday do-it-yourselfers.

SK, which stands for Sherman-Klove Co., a company that made World War I ammunition and screw machine products, is located in the giant workshop and produced tool parts for suppliers across the country. .

“This town needs it” Lawrence talked about the production lines running.

He is excited to tell more people about the Shop-Vac story and wants employees with the right attitude who want to join a winning team.

Shop-Vac was founded in 1953 as a subsidiary of Craft Tool Co. by Martin Miller, a mechanical engineer who patented the product.

The vacuum cleaner quickly replaced the broom and dustpan.

It could clean wood and metal shavings in places such as high school workshops, and in 1969 the company opened its world headquarters in Williamsport, producing the Shop-Vac brand but also private label vacuum cleaners with names such as Craftsman, Black & Decker, Montgomery. Wards and JC Penney.

Over the years the wet/dry vacuum has evolved, such as in 1998 when Shop-Vac introduced a vacuum pump capable of picking up water from flooded areas and pumping it up to 60 feet.

For areas of central Pennsylvania that experience periodic flooding, the machine has proven invaluable.

It’s still considered a bargain.

Inside the 350,000 square foot facility is a 300,000 square foot warehouse dedicated to the product line.

In another part of the plant, 40 blow molding and injection molding machines are positioned to perform their tasks.

This is where the tanks, nozzles and pipes are made.

In the distance, a team of workers on assembly lines are busy packing components and placing them in boxes for shipment.

They raise their hands to Lawrence and his tour. Some of the women and men move their bodies from side to side, others quickly assemble the cardboard boxes, and still others pile the vacuum cleaner, parts, instructions and warranty into the boxes.

They move along the assembly line to be stacked and await shipment, or stored for emergencies.

Some 100,000 vacuum cleaners remain in the factory in the event of natural disasters and the rush to retailers in the event of floods, hurricanes and storms.

Almost everyone owns or knows someone who has a Shop-Vac. But, surprisingly, the product is available in 50 sizes and can be used by everyone, from the grandma sweeping up spilled Cheerios to those needing to clean up ashes at industrial sites.

The factory tries to produce most of what constitutes vacuum cleaners on the factory site, to stay competitive, and that includes items such as stainless steel cages, plastic fans and hoses.

The motors – which power the product lines – are made by a sister company in China, and most of the raw materials are from US suppliers.

In another part of the factory are 40 gigantic presses that produce the plastic parts for the vacuum cleaners.

These are lit and because they use a lot of power they are left lit in three shifts for days and weeks at a time.

The injection mold used to produce the plastic parts is fixed on top with a coupling. A gigantic chain with a hook hooks onto it and lifts it into place.

The air temperature is comfortable, and new assembly line workers receive initial training on slow cycles and are mentored before being brought in for regular assembly.

Some employees have been with the company for 30 years. There is a mix of relatively older employees and younger employees.

“We promote a positive work environment and culture”, said Laurent.

For example, employees participated in a sale of tents for the community, organized picnics and played an invaluable role, scaling up production to ensure that additional vacuum cleaners were available at local retailers, especially in the event of a natural disaster.

Vacuums and components are sold through the Shop-Vac website along with a store for shopping and the toll-free 1-800 customer service line.

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