Business has been so good for the Danner Corporation, an Auburn-based aerospace company, that it has had to turn away customers.
On Monday, representatives from the small, family-owned manufacturing and engineering firm were at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent, recruiting workers to fill openings and keep the company machine clicking.
Such is the robust state of the aerospace industry in the Green River Valley, Puget Sound region and throughout the state.
Washington is far and away the best location in the U.S. for aerospace design and manufacturing, according to the Teal Group’s recent study, which analyzed competitive advantages and disadvantages for aerospace assembly in 50 states and Washington, D.C.
Demand and competition for such jobs – from machinists to mechanics, engineers to inspectors, clerks to technicians – remain high, industry leaders say. While some companies have cut their work forces, other firms continue to hire and maintain their strength in the industry.
While no one considers the Puget Sound region the global hub of commercial aerospace production, many significant manufacturers and supply chain operators do call it home.
On Monday, more than 1,200 registered job seekers greeted 38 potential employers at the ShoWare Center for the day-long Aerospace Futures Alliance Aerospace Job Fair. While many came to find immediate work, others inquired to possibly change or upgrade the job they already have.
“I came from California, looking for work,” said one engineer who asked to remain anonymous. “There’s a lot of energy here. It’s very promising here. … I already have had an interview.”
Unlike other, broader job fairs, the AFA-backed event targeted job seekers looking specifically for aerospace jobs. Employers at the AFA fair reported that about three-quarters of the resumes they accepted came from applicants who were qualified for their open positions.
“We have a lot of entry-level positions open right now just because they are a little harder to fill and retain,” said Lexi Dixon, human resources director for Danner, a manufacturing and engineering firm that specializes in advanced technology to develop and manufacture composite systems and structures. “I’ve met a lot of great people here looking for some place to grow with, and that’s great for us because we’re growing pretty rapidly.
“Just trying to get people in here, wanting to learn, wanting to try different things, kind of build their way up in the company, would be great,” Dixon said. “We’ve received a lot of good resumes so far.”
Lines were long at Boeing, where applicants were waiting patiently to greet company reps, submit their resumes and find answers to their questions.
One mechanic, who asked to remain anonymous, hoped to find a job that best fit his skills. He wasn’t entirely sure he’d found it.
“Lot of possibilities,” he said. “A lot of work to find the right work. I intend to keep looking.”
One job seeker came from as far away as Boston to land a job in the area, and now wants to find a better-paying position.
“I have a family, three children,” he said as he walked from the arena, papers in hand.
Annie Philipsen, a recruiter for Kent-based Blue Origin, a privately-funded aerospace manufacturer and spaceflight services company, had scant time to sit down and eat lunch given the steady stream of inquisitors.
“These are exciting times,” Philipsen said. “It’s a good time to be a part of Blue Origin.”