Staffing and logistics pinch Alabama moulder even after bringing work closer to home
“It’s just a matter of being able to hire truck drivers,” said Craft, whose name coincides with that of his employer. “There were times when we had to call our client and say, ‘We can’t get a truck out today because we can’t have a truck driver. We will have a truck tomorrow. ‘ “
The industry was already worried about a shortage of truck drivers before the pandemic arrived. But then it got worse. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last month that trucking employment in the United States has not recovered from its pandemic decline and remains more than 30,000 people below its February 2020 workforce.
Staffing and logistics issues also raise quality flags in a supply chain, Craft added.
“We have had quality issues with companies that have never had any before,” he said. “And that’s because they’ve lost some of their experienced talent. New employees are coming in who have to learn the product from scratch.”
The labor shortage has been compounded this year by the pandemic and the resulting flow of federal unemployment benefits, Craft said. But he also knows that parts of the country were struggling with demand for workers before COVID-19 arrived and will still be struggling with that as the industry returns to normal conditions.
Koller Craft South is part of Koller Craft LLC and owned by Koller Enterprises Inc.
Alabama, home to Koller Craft South and its 213,000 square foot factory, has seen a tidal wave of investment in auto manufacturing in recent years, and parts of the state – as well as surrounding areas. from Georgia and South Carolina – showed signs of a tight labor pool. In August, even as U.S. industry continued to run below capacity, Alabama reported an unemployment rate of just 3.1 percent, compared with 5.2 percent nationwide, according to the bureau. of Labor Statistics.
Last week, one of Alabama’s biggest auto employers, Mercedes-Benz US International Inc., attended a job fair in an attempt to entice more workers to its Vance assembly plant.
But the awareness wasn’t aimed at Alabama workers – Mercedes went recruiting in the Detroit area, hoping to hire auto workers from Michigan to move to Alabama.
“Just because you have a population of ‘X’ living in an area doesn’t mean you have ‘X’ as a potential labor force,” Craft said. “I’ve seen Tier 1 and Tier 2 vendors advertise that they are bringing a factory to a certain area, and signs have been put up in an industrial park and site preparation has started, but these factories have failed. never materialized – because the workforce did not pan out.
“It is possible to over-employ an area.