Chamber Facilitated Improvements on Rail Crossing

In August 2018 Arconic reached out to Kevin Pearson, Senior V.P., Economic Development for the Wichita Falls Chamber, seeking assistance for improvements to the Bacon Switch Road rail crossing.

Two manufacturers utilize this rail crossing which has deteriorated over the last 15 years and was affecting their transport of goods. Arconic and Vitro Architectural Glass both voiced concerns about quality control for shipped/received parts and their failed attempts to rectify the situation with Wichita Tillman Jackson Rail Road (WTJRR) and Wichita County.

The Chamber arranged meetings with both entities to inspect the rail crossing, discussed funding and coordinated the efforts toward a solution.

What were the issues?

The WTJRR did not have funds in its 2018 budget to repair the crossing and does not budget for repair or replacement of a crossing until it is not safe for rail traffic. The County didn’t want to make improvements to the roadway until a new rail crossing had been complete.

Since Arconic and Vitro are two of the area’s largest employers, WTJRR was willing to supply the labor for the crossing if the 4a Board was willing to assist with the material cost, and Wichita County agreed to improve the roadway approaches to the crossing.

The Outcome

With Pearson driving the project, the WFEDC and City Council approved $50,000 for materials to improve the rail crossing, the WTJRR supplied labor for the crossing improvements, while two County Commissioners – Lee Harvey and Barry Mohler – combined their road budgets to approve $70,000 to make concrete road improvements on both side of the crossing. The new crossing was completed as on March 26, 2019. Pearson said this about the project, “As usual, everyone came together to ensure the absolute best outcome for two of our largest employers.  The WTJRR crew went above and beyond the call by improving drainage, new ballast, new ties and straightening the track over the crossing.  The County’s team originally planned to use asphalt for the approaches but decided it was in the best interest of Arconic and Vitro to use a much more expensive concrete with a longer useful life.  Concrete aprons were also added to air trucks in making turns onto and off of the frontage road.  While this may appear to be an almost insignificant project, it is not insignificant to Vitro, Arconic, its employees, or the truck traffic that use Bacon Switch Road.”

“Kevin, I wanted to also send you a personal note of thanks. This would not have happened without your leadership. You stayed focused to find a way through the various obstacles that would have otherwise killed the project. You worked all the possible alternatives until a solution was found. This is a sign of a strong leader. I and Arconic really appreciate your effort. Thanks!”

Steve Sage, Plant Manager for Arconic

Center grows regardless of low unemployment rate

The Results Company, in Wichita Falls, Texas, continues growth at a fast pace and now has over 700 customer service professionals.  The company opened an operation in this city (population 104,000 residents) in 2016 with the assistance of a $2.5 million incentive from the City of Wichita Falls.

“The growth has been beyond expectations,” said Kevin M. Pearson – Senior Vice President for the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce, who located the company to town.

Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, The Results Companies is a privately-held company which is owned by One Equity Partners, and Results’ management. Results operates 26 contact centers throughout the United States, Latin America, and the Philippines.

Results’ Network Operating Center is co-located in the Atlanta Telx building, with full redundancy in our Provo, UT contact center location. For over 26 years the company has served as a premier global customer experience provider for many Fortune 500 companies. The uniquely-designed, built and award-winning centers have set the standard for innovative customer-focused contact solutions.

Entrusted with over 46,000,000 relationships a year, its success and proven ability to respond to its Partner’s growth has enabled the company to expand its global footprint. With over 22,000 employees across the globe, The Results Companies’ expertise extends beyond call centers. The company is a well-known industry expert in representatives, analytical technologies, brand fulfillment and creating strategic advantages for its Partners.

The annual economic impact of the local operation on the Wichita Falls MSA is projected to be excess of $34 million.

The Wichita Falls Unemployment Rate for October 2018 was down to 3.1%, but the Results Company continues to find quality workers.  The company has also indicated drugs and alcohol abuse in Wichita Falls have not been a significant issue.

Wichita Falls Saturation Rate (the number of total customer service representatives in the MSA divided by the MSA Civilian Labor Force) is still only 2.2%.  Pearson says there is plenty of labor in Wichita Falls and the surrounding area to be able to staff up another 200 to 300 seat call-center. A saturation rate of 4% would discourage a new customer service center from considering the city as a possible location.

Have questions? We encourage you to contact Kevin Pearson directly by emailing him at the Wichita Falls Chamber.

How our BRE program helps company find welders

It was almost a year ago when I had the president of a local company call me with one simple request:  “how can we grow our workforce pool in the welding sector WITHOUT continually cannibalizing the workforce of another manufacturer in our community?”  For me, it was a reasonable request/question yet the solution seemed to evade our manufacturer’s for many years.  So the president of the company, myself and the H.R. director sat down and just started talking – asking questions, listening and understanding what the employer needed was 90% of the battle.

Welder_Flying_SparksConnecting local resources is always the Chamber’s #1 goal, after all, our local organizations and local people have the best grasp on what we really need.  Wichita Falls is extremely fortunate in that we have a high school Career Education Center in which workforce skills are not only taught but also designed to put quality young professionals in our workforce upon high school graduation.  We are also blessed with Vernon Community College Skills Training Center where industrial skills are further developed and the next level of education can be obtained.  Yet with these great resources available, the problem still existed, the problem of not enough people/population participating in the classroom/lab/workshop – we needed more than our community could produce!

My question to the company:  who do you know that I can approach about the recruitment of more welders?  The response:  Well, we know that Tulsa Welding School (TWS) graduates a lot of students each year and being as though they have two campuses that are in our region, TWS would be a good place to start.  So, I make the call, I tell them who I am and what one of our local manufacturer’s needs.  Of course, the staff was extremely thankful and very accommodating.

I scheduled a campus tour and they lined up several staff members to enlighten me on their training and development process.  The way their education process works they basically can graduate 100 – 250 students every 5 weeks – definitely a number we can work with.

Several large companies around the U.S. have an existing relationship with TWS and they also have recruitment programs that work.  The question for us was:  how can we compete with some of the largest welding job companies out there?  The solution was simple, not easy…but simple:  help the graduates with relocation expenses!

It doesn’t matter the occupation, skillset or talent one has – what matters is the basic human needs, one of which, for a recent college graduate, is the money to help them relocate.

So, through excellent community partnerships between The Chamber of Commerce, The Wichita Falls Economic Development Corporation, the City of Wichita Falls, and the local manufacturer, a new recruitment program was developed.  All four of the organizations had “skin in the game”.

For the Chamber; develop the right connections between the company and the school.

For the economic development board and the City:  develop an incentive program to assist with the cost of relocation, and for the company (the biggest challenge); interview and hire the right fit and to match the relocation incentive offered by the EDO and City.

The program was put in place in early 2018 – the results have been excellent!  Not only have we added new workforce but the county has gained new population.  New skilled workforce and an increase in population are exactly what our community needs in order to grow!

Contact Travis Haggard by clicking here!