published Friday, July 13th, 2012

Volkswagen suppliers plan to hire 100 full-time workers in Chattanooga area

The VW logo is seen on the front of one of dozens of new Passats made at the Chattanooga Volkswagen assembly plant parked outside the plant. These cars will be used as demos for testing, internal quality control and press test drives.
The VW logo is seen on the front of one of dozens of new Passats made at the Chattanooga Volkswagen assembly plant parked outside the plant. These cars will be used as demos for testing, internal quality control and press test drives.
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MAU is planning a job fair Monday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Holiday Inn-Hamilton Place, 2232 Center St. Applicants can go to its website to apply online and schedule an interview at www.mau.com/chattanoogajobs.

Keeping pace with plans for more vehicle production at the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant, two suppliers are aiming to bring on 100 more full-time workers.

About half of the jobs will be filled right away, according to Zach Brewster of staffing firm MAU Workforce Solutions.

He said most of the jobs are related to Chattanooga Seating Systems, which supplies seats to VW for its midsize Passat sedan. Brewster declined to name the other company.

The employees, doing assembler work, would start at between $10 and $11 per hour, the staffing company said.

The Chattanooga area has tallied about 1,500 supplier jobs related to the Volkswagen plant, according to J.Ed. Marston, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's vice president of marketing. Volkswagen began making Passats in the spring of 2011 and plans to add 1,000 more of its own workers during 2012, boosting its Chattanooga head count to about 3,500 and total jobs spurred by the plant to more than 5,000.

Chattanooga Seating, located in VW's supplier park next to the assembly plant, is a joint venture between Hollingsworth Logistics, a Michigan firm, and Magna Seating, a subsidiary of one of the world's biggest auto parts companies.

The new supplier employees are needed to keep up with VW's advancing production, which is now up to more than 600 cars a day.

Frank Fischer, chief executive of VW's Chattanooga operations, has said VW is making about $7 million in changes inside the plant to bolster the speed of its assembly line so it can assemble 170,000 vehicles annually, up from 150,000.

Currently, all production at the plant is aimed at the midsize Passat sedan, he said.

"There's no decision on a future vehicle," Fischer said, though he said he hopes for a second product in the future. Financial Times Deutschland has reported that top managers in Germany are weighing production of a sport utility vehicle in Chattanooga.

Fischer said a second line could be added to the paint shop and plant production could be expanded to 250,000 vehicles a year.

Marston said the Chattanooga area needs to maintain vigilance about a trained work force for future automotive jobs.

"We're putting in a number of measures such as a STEM school," he said.

Hamilton County is moving ahead with a high school focused on science, technology, engineering and math this fall at Chattanooga State Community College.

Earlier this year, Gov. Bill Haslam announced a $1.8 million grant for the new school, which is to open in space next to the new Wacker Institute. At its maximum, the STEM school will hold about 300 students, officials have said.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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