Shortage of Labour Causes Disruption in Mine
WATERTOWN — EZ STAK’s new manufacturing facility in the Jefferson County Corporate Park is understaffed despite operating for two months because it hasn’t been able to attract workers.
The Kingston, Ontario-based company, which makes modular interior storage systems for vehicles for utilities and first responders, wanted to hire seven to 10 employees to assemble the components for its shelves, cabinets, lockers, chests and drawers at its plant at 22620 Fisher Road. It has been shipping products from the facility to customers across the country since February.
Supply chain manager Marie E. Lawrenson, however, said EZ STAK was only able to recruit three workers. While the company ships products out daily, Ms. Lawrenson said the manufacturer was forced to reserve certain tasks to its Kingston hub until it can hire more material handlers and assemblers for its Watertown location.
“We’re just sending in as much as three people can do at this point,” she said. “We’ll have guys come in from our Canadian facility as well for support.”
EZ STAK is one of several Canadian-based employers to set up shop in the north country in the past several months, including the Toronto-based Titan Mining Corp., which opened Empire State Mines at the former St. Lawrence Zinc Co. mine in Fowler, and the Ottawa-based Canexsys Networks Inc. and Flexus Electronics, which operate satellite facilities in Ogdensburg.
Like other manufacturers and employers, EZ STAK has been struggling to attract prosecutive employees due to a labor shortage, said Cheryl A. Mayforth, director of the Jefferson County Department of Employment & Training at the WorkPlace. Mrs. Mayforth said the lack of laborers correlates with fewer people looking for work than in previous years, a lack of applicants with the necessary skills and people who can pass drug tests.
The WorkPlace has been helping EZ STAK recruit workers with major efforts in November and December.
“They had a select number of people, but when they went to hire those people in January, they were employed elsewhere,” Mrs. Mayforth said.
Prospective applicants for positions at the storage system assembly plant would need to know how to assemble and use pneumatic tools. They would receive $11.50 to $13 per hour for their work.
Anyone interested in applying can contact Angel Munson, a business service representative with the WorkPlace, at 315-786-3659.
EZ STAK signed a lease for the 14,660-square-foot facility, which once housed Z-Star Industries, from Purcell Construction’s MSP Realty LLC last year and renovated it to have a main warehouse, a service area for workers to install storage systems into vehicles and several offices.
Ms. Lawrenson, whose father, Mike Lawrenson, owns EZ Stak, said the Kingston-based manufacturer opened its first U.S. satellite facility in Illinois.
“Illinois was a good starting point; it’s central. However, we wanted to be closer to our Canadian facility for better management” and service for U.S. customers, she said. “In the long term, we would like to do manufacturing (in Watertown) as well.”