Representatives from Ball Metal Container spoke to students in Heavy Equipment and Automotive Technology about career opportunities at their plant in Saratoga Springs. Like many businesses, they have an aging workforce, and they are looking for heads-up people who will be future innovators with their company.
“BOCES students don’t realize how valuable and rare their skill sets are,” Human Resources Director Andrea Miele told the classes. “You are a hot commodity and you should market yourselves because your skills are in demand.”
There are five career paths at the Ball Metal plant – with room for advancement and travel – and every one of them starts at the operator position. The company typically promotes from within, but Miele explained that they are having trouble finding qualified candidates who can “turn a wrench.”
“Many operators are happy where they are and don’t want to advance,” Mrs. Miele explained. At a starting salary of $22.90 per hour and raises after successfully completing each of three 90-day learning periods, the operators they have are satisfied with their take-home pay, benefits, pension plan and 401K, and matching stock options.
“Every time we hire an operator, we are really looking for a maintainer,” Mrs. Miele said. “We want someone with a trade background who can take apart a machine, fix it, and rebuild it. And we have a lot of machines!”
The Ball Metal Container plant in Saratoga Springs operates 24 hours per day, seven days per week, with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas. It manufactures close to 10 million recyclable aluminum cans every day for clients such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Anheuser Busch.
Ball Metal Container is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and is #297 on the Fortune 500 list. The company was founded in 1880, and the plant in Saratoga Springs was built in 1981. Ball Metal employs more than 14,500 people around the world – with more than 90 locations in 12 countries and 18 states. Their sales in 2012 were $8.7 billion and earnings were $404 million.
The Saratoga Springs plant is one of Ball’s most productive plants in the world, and many of Ball’s managers across the country and world started their careers here in Saratoga.
What does Ball Metal look for in an employee?
Safety is number one at Ball Metal Container. It is a fast-moving plant, so employees need to know what tool to use and when, and how to position their bodies for safety at all times.
Employees have to wear slip resistant shoes, cut-resistant gloves, safety glasses and hearing protection. They need to have a working knowledge of basic hand tools and be able to work in a team. They are computer literate, action-oriented, ambitious, and have their attention focused on customers.
Attention to detail is key. “If you can’t remember it, write it down,” said Process Superintendent Backend Bob Monaco. “Some of our experienced employees keep notebooks that they still refer to every day. That kind of experience means they have the ability to fix repetitive problems.”
Quality control is also important. “We use several different kinds of indicators to ensure quality control throughout the manufacturing process,” said Process Superintendent Backend Dan Washburn. “We use micrometers, dial indicators, and more to make sure each can is made to exact specifications.”
Operators work four days on, four days off in 12-hour shifts that rotate every four weeks between days (6am-6pm) and nights (6pm-6am).
“Four days on means you can pick up work on your days off,” said Mr. Monaco. “When I started, I got hooked up with a contractor and built houses on my days off.”
How can you get your foot in the door?
Ball Metal has agreed to work with the WSWHE BOCES Work-Based Learning department to offer an opportunity to seniors who are at least 18 years old. This opportunity entails working with the Process Team to:
This Work-Based Learning opportunity can lead to a temporary summer position at Ball Metal with a starting salary of $16.16 per hour, with the opportunity for shift work and overtime. It can also lead to future full-time employment.
Any student in any of the heavy trades classes who is interested in pursuing the Work-Based Learning Opportunity at Ball Metal should contact John Major at 581-3624 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Ball Metal Container, and interesting videos about their operations, please visit www.ball.com
On behalf of WSWHE BOCES, we would like to thank Mrs. Miele, Mr. Washburn, and Mr. Monaco for the opportunities and insight they brought to our students.