Charlotte Sun newspaper article

North Port’s King Plastic tests new direction, hiring ‘anybody who’s interested’

By CRAIG GARRETT STAFF WRITER NORTH PORT — Holly Shearer had never done what she did Thursday. The human resources director for King Plastic Corp. in North Port — the city’s largest private employer — Shearer and administrative assistant Natali Donnelly parked themselves at a folding table behind the main office off Toledo Blade Boulevard to await job-seekers. The company had posted entry-level jobs, a downstream technician position that starts at $15 an hour. But this is the twilight of the pandemic. Even in a heated jobs market, it’s tough finding workers, Shearer said — seemingly all employers are hiring, especially in that $15 range. So, King Plastic after 53 years in Sarasota County held its first pop-up job fair Thursday and will hold another next Thursday. Extending interview hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. is an even greater lure, she added. “We’d love to have any-body who’s interested,” said Shearer, who had questionnaires and a follow-up brain-teaser with a measuring tape and a rect-angle of half-inch plastic. Job-seekers were to follow a trail of bunched balloons on the campus to find the two women at the folding table. “We’re willing to give anybody a shot,” she said. King Plastic, of course, is in the same pickle as other employers in Florida and across the country. Job vacancies in March had soared nationally to about 15 million. North Port alone is awash in stories of fast food restaurants closing or cutting back hours due to lack of help. The dilemma is that many workers in the pandemic had hit the road, chose to remain home as their kids learned remotely, or collected hefty unemployment checks. That left the world upside down, some workers in today’s market not sure which direction to turn. And lower-wage workers also face a new crisis: afford-able housing is evaporating in a super hot market. North Port is just now seeing more modest housing opening or under construction. Mel Thomas, North Port’s economic development di-rector, said another dilemma is that women are slower in seeking jobs or returning to an old one, as childcare is expensive. That’s why employers such as PGT Innovations in Nokomis had offered signing bonuses, and others offer daycare or improved workplace environments, Thomas added, suggesting that employers recruit teens, perhaps scout trade schools, “to do things we’ve never done before.” By mid-morning Thursday, Shearer awaited her first interviewee. But her hope was that extended hours would help because “there’s always something good at King Plastic.” King Plastic Corp. is at 1100 N. Toledo-Blade Blvd., North Port. Job-seekers should check and the King Plastic website for further details. Email: craig.garrett@ Read article online