WESTFIELD-With close to 100 area residents attending the Job Fair on May 22, sponsored by Mestek, Inc. in collaboration with the Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce, event organizers are hopeful that more businesses will be interested in participating in a similar endeavor in the late summer or early fall.
“I was pleasantly surprised with the turnout,” said Eric Oulette, executive director of the Westfield Chamber. “We had a dynamic group of employers and Mestek did a great job promoting the Job Fair and setting up the tents for businesses.”
Oulette, who recently took the helm of the Chamber, noted he was eager that day to meet the company executives participating in the event as well as the job seekers.
“We were giving job seekers our membership directory,” said Oulette, adding, “We had a mix of folks seeking different employment options.”
Companies seeking employees that were featured at the Job Fair included Mestek, ProAmpac, C & S Wholesale Grocers, Commercial Distributing Co., Inc., USA Waste and Recycling, Inc., Staples, Inc., Northwestern Mutual, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Westfield, Viability, Inc., Six Flags New England, Climate Engineering Companies, Lenox Industrial Tools, Boy Scouts of America, and Friendly’s Westfield.
Participation in the Job Fair was free for companies that are Chamber members, and nonmembers were charged a $25 fee.
“I was surprised we didn’t have businesses related to restaurants and the hospitality industry,” said Oulette, adding he is hopeful that more companies will want to participate in the next event that is still in the planning phase.
Peter Letendre, plant manager at Mestek, said the company is hiring 60 employees for manufacturing positions including machine operators, assembly and packing.
“We also have two lab technician position openings,” said Letendre, noting more than 50 area residents visited the Mestek table to discuss job opportunities.
“Many people were from Westfield who want to work in the city,” said Letendre, adding, “One applicant is returning to Westfield from eastern Massachusetts.”
During the course of the 10 a.m.-noon event, 18 candidates completed Mestek applications, six provided resumes, and others took applications to complete at home or online.
“The people who attended the fair had a variety of backgrounds,” said Letendre. “Some had manufacturing experience while others were looking for a career change into manufacturing.”
Letendre said he received many questions about skill training, career progression, shift hours and benefits.
“Overall it was a well-attended event since it was the first job fair in Westfield since the start of the pandemic,” said Letendre. “It was encouraging to talk with motivated candidates seeking employment.”
Kellie Brown, director of operations at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Westfield, shared a similar sentiment.
“The people that came to the table seemed very interested in positions,” said Brown, adding she had received four resumes during the morning event.
“There was definitely interest and I did receive two follow-up emails so I will be interviewing them,” she said.
Currently, Brown said there are a variety of career opportunities at the club, including lead teacher and assistant teacher for the Kidz Klub; an assistant teacher for the Pre-school Program, and general club positions range from staff in the Games Room, an Education Room Assistant, and an Art Studio Assistant, to lifeguards, an athletic assistant, bus driver and help in the food service department.
Arthur Lobdell, assistant scout executive with the Western Massachusetts Council, Boy Scouts of America, said he spoke with approximately 20 people on Saturday.
“I had information on several positions,” said Lobdell, adding the organization is a new Chamber member.
Council positions available include part-time, year-round retail, part-time seasonal youth worker (September-May), full-time outreach/networking executive, and several full-time seasonal positions (four-week) summer camp work from “general labor to specifically licensed.”
Oulette said he was encouraged by the turnout and considers the event a “success.”
“We had a lot folks applying for jobs with a mixed range of kids from 18 to adults in their mid 50’s,” said Oulette. “The Chamber is here to help companies grow and we look forward to more events like this in the future.”