Job fair attracts 1,000

Published 6:37 pm Wednesday, April 11, 2012

About 1,000 people showed up at the Suffolk Hilton Garden Inn for the job fair hosted by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. The company accepted resumes and held brief interviews. About 800 people are expected to be needed for the company, which is building a site in Windsor.

By Stephen H. Cowles
Correspondent

For about a thousand people in line at downtown Suffolk’s Hilton Garden Inn on Wednesday, it wasn’t so much about what kind of jobs they were chasing as it was about the simple fact that new jobs were suddenly available.

“I’ll take anything” seemed to be the general consensus among the hundreds of people in line for a job fair held by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc.

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The Vermont-based company is creating a new production and distribution site at the Shirley T. Holland Intermodal Park on Route 460 in Windsor.

The company makes single-serve portion packets for its Keurig brewing system. Roasting, grinding and packing would also be done locally. Once operational, GMCR would be open 20 to 24 hours a day.

People came from near and far to submit their resumes.

Diana Jones of Suffolk said, “I just want a job. I’m already working at Lipton, but I need the extra money.”

Unfazed by the sight of so many people ahead of and behind her, Jones noted that the line was moving rapidly.

Montreal Scott of the city echoed the words of Sandy Pessagno of Zuni: “I’ll take anything.”

For a few minutes, both were at the end of the line. But a half-dozen people soon lined up behind them.

He’s a floor technician for Target, and she’s unemployed but said she’s driven a tractor trailer in the past.

Allen Pudder lives just two miles from the new Green Mountain facility.

Pudder, who is unemployed, said, “I’m looking to get into the door. I need to be productive. I have two children to take care of.”

Pudder is retired from the Ford Motor Co. and recently left a temporary position at a warehouse because it wasn’t “going anywhere.”

“It’s sad the economy’s in bad shape and that everybody and his brother has to be out here for a job in order to survive,” he said.

Pudder researched the company online and said he was “very impressed” by its record of employer and community relations, and that it strives to help independent coffee makers.

“I’d like to be a team member with them (GMCR),” he said.

Among those who traveled to Suffolk for the job fair were Rosemary Romanczyk of Chesapeake and Larry Ruffin of Murfreesboro, N.C.

“I’m looking for anything,” Romanczyk said. “Full-time, part-time, as many hours as I can get on any shift.”

She’s already employed by Michael’s, a popular craft supply store. But she said, “I can’t live on one day a week.”

Ruffin, who said he’s unemployed now, learned about the fair through his local paper.

“I’ll take anything available, really,” he said. “I have work experience, though not like Green Mountain. But I’m pretty sure I could be successful.”

Kathy Peters, a Franklin resident who said she’s employed as a caregiver, hopes to become a machine operator, as are the other three hopeful applicants.

“I’ve worked at Lipton Tea and Twin Pack, a Canada-based company that makes plastics and is in Newport News,” she said.

Hiring officials from GMCR at the site were not available for comment.

However, Katie Gilroy, manager, for corporate communications at GMCR, said she heard there were about 1,000 attendees.

“Resumes were collected and brief interviews held, though no on-the-spot hires. But once hired, they’d start right away,” said Gilroy.

Progress on construction stands at fitting up the building, including lines for production and roasting.

Lisa T. Perry, director of economic development for Isle of Wight County, drove to Suffolk to see how well the fair was attended.

“We got an excited call about the fair,” said Perry. “We anticipated a thousand people. I’m not surprised to see the turnout.”

She said the company is going to need 800 jobs for the long-term, and 200 in the near term.