Primus Pipe & Tube Partners with CareerSource Central Florida to Fill Jobs
As the vice president of finance and human resources for Primus Pipe & Tube, Horacio Carreno understands the challenges of enticing people to come work in Wildwood, a Sumter County city with a population of less than 8,000.
But with assistance from CareerSource Central Florida, he has helped the company fill about 40 jobs in recent years, even in the tight employment market brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic — everything from general labor positions to maintenance to administrative.
“We’ve had good success,” Carreno said. “I’m able to justify bringing in someone with little to no experience, and CareerSource helps by absorbing the training or payroll costs for a number of days or weeks until we can get this person trained. I’ve hired many people who I typically would not consider. Hiring someone who’s a landscaper but has no metal or welding experience is challenging, and CareerSource has helped us.”
Carreno has been with the company about eight years and in the metals field for about 12 years. He started in the scrap industry, where his previous employer purchased metals from what is today his current employer.
“When my previous employer was acquired by a much larger company, they centralized a lot of the duties I was doing for them as the controller,” he said. “I chose not to move because I wanted to stay in Florida.” He began working for Primus, which was acquired in 2017 by Ta Chen International from Taiwan.
“We’ve been pretty fortunate as a company,” Carreno said. “People come in to develop a trade or skill, and they can make a good career working here. We pay very good wages for this market. Historically, we’ve had very low turnover. People retired from this facility after 30 or 40 years of working here. I used to brag that we were not good at hiring because we never really had to. Once in a while, we’d hire one person.
“Then two to three years ago, things started to change because people started to retire at a fast rate. We’ve had to improvise. Even the onboarding process was challenging for us because we’d never really had to do it.”
Ironically, circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have enabled the company to thrive. The company saw an increase in demand for its products because of supply chain issues that made sourcing from other countries challenging, on top of new U.S. tariffs on imports. Before the pandemic, Ta Chen had been preparing to increase the company’s capacity, constructing a third building with new equipment.
“We’ve had to do a lot of hiring,” Carreno said. “Just since January of this year, I’ve hired more people than I had hired in the previous six years.”
To stay competitive in hiring, Primus has increased its starting pay from $13.05 to $15 an hour. Carreno has even resorted to texting people whose resumes he finds through various sources. “When I see a resume and I can’t get in touch with the individual, it’s amazing how efficient texting is and how often I get a response. I’ll get a response to a text quicker than I get a response to a voicemail.”
At least once a week, he touches base with his CareerSource Central Florida consultant, Yolanda Green. She sends him candidates who have already been briefed on what the position is about and have been determined to be a potential fit.
“Whenever I have a need, I’ll let her know in advance, ‘I’m looking to hire four people this month’ and she’ll send me the resumes of individuals in the area who qualify for the jobs we’re looking to fill,” Carreno said. “Usually I find it easier and more helpful to work with CareerSource than I do with an employment agency.”
The company’s workforce now stands at 104 people, and Primus is continuing to grow. “With the start-up of new equipment, it’s been extremely challenging trying to find skilled labor in our area,” Carreno said. “So I’ve leaned on CareerSource for support.”