Volkswagen supplier Gestamp gears up for Chattanooga-made SUV

Company aiming to hire 510 more workers

Job Fair hopefuls fill out applications for employment at Gestamp in Chattanooga. The availability was on Tuesday at the Brainerd Crossroads building.
photo Gestamp HR Recruiter Madalyn Roberts, left, accepts employment applications from job fair attendee Moesha Sims, center, as Taneshia Gearing and Dreashun Conner wait in line Tuesday at the Brainerd Crossroads building.


* Hickory Valley Road plant - parts stamping, spot welding assembly* New VW location - parts stamping* Jersey Pike plant - chassis productionSource: Gestamp

The biggest single investment by a Volkswagen supplier in Hamilton County is now shifting into one of the largest hiring efforts by an automotive company here.

"We'll be hiring a ton of people," said Madalyn Roberts, a human resources recruiter for Spanish supplier Gestamp, on Tuesday.

Gestamp's new plant next to VW's factory at Enterprise South industrial park expects to employ up to 115 workers by year's end, making parts for VW's new sport utility vehicle, Roberts said at a job fair at Brainerd Crossroads.

Also, the stamped parts and chassis producer will hire for second and third shifts at that plant early next year, she said.

In addition, Roberts said two other Gestamp plants in Chattanooga are hiring workers to begin and boost production.

Gestamp officials said last year the company planned to add 510 more jobs in Chattanooga over two years as it spends about $180 million in an expansion.

Gestamp in 2009 built a Hickory Valley Road plant at Enterprise South to service VW, where it employed 265 people last year. Gestamp has recently added onto that factory as part of its huge Chattanooga upgrade.

Additionally, the company bought the former Farley's & Sathers candy plant on Jersey Pike, which it renovated to handle its operations.

Gestamp is expected to have about 775 employees in the county when it completes its workforce expansion, second only to VW among auto-related companies here.

Kevin Nerney of Fort Oglethorpe, one of the job applicants who came to Tuesday's Gestamp job fair, said he hopes to find a job in purchasing. He said he has a background in vehicle production at former Chattanooga electric bus maker Advanced Vehicle Systems.

Nerney said he thinks his skills will be a good fit for Gestamp, which is one of VW's big suppliers and a major auto industry venture worldwide, with 95 plants and more than 32,000 employees.

Taneshia Gearing of Chattanooga said she has worked at production companies in Chattanooga, such as at chicken processor Pilgrim's.

"I've got family who work [at Gestamp,]" she said. "I've heard it's a good company."

Moesha Sims, also of Chattanooga, said she needs a job, having formerly worked at Amazon's large warehouse operation.

"I want to try new things," she said.

Last year, Gestamp said its existing Chattanooga facility paid an average of $38,200 per year in wages to its workers, and it expected the new sites to pay about the same.

Mattie Moran, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's director of workforce development and education, said Gestamp asked for the business group's help in scheduling the job fair.

The Chamber also is aiding VW and staffing contractor Aerotek ramp up the German automaker's workforce by holding seven other job fairs this summer.

An Aerotek official said last week it plans to hire about 700 more people to work at the VW plant, in addition to the some 2,400 employees already there. Ultimately, VW plans to hire 2,000 workers related to the expansion.

VW is spending $900 million, including $600 million in Chattanooga, to boost the size of its plant to produce a new midsize sports utility vehicle. Dealers should start seeing the SUV on their lots early next year, according to VW.

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318.