Generac plans to add 400 positions in Whitewater and Jefferson

Published Friday, July 31, 2020
by Milwaukee Business Journal

Generac Holdings Inc. plans to hire 400 more people to fill manufacturing positions in Whitewater and Jefferson.

Generac (NYSE: GNRC), based in Waukesha, reported a slight increase in net sales in the company's fiscal second quarter, which included 27.2% growth in residential product sales.

Generac CEO Aaron Jagdfeld said that the 400 new hires will fulfill the increased demand and production capabilities at the two facilities.

Generac's residential standby generators are almost exclusively produced at the Whitewater factory. The company also plans to add a new home standby production line in the Jefferson facility, which currently produces a lot of "chore products" including brush cutters, trimmers and chipper shredders.

"We’re going to actually move some of our home standby production to Jefferson just so we can get more output because we’re a bit constrained by our footprint in Whitewater and frankly by the headcount," Jagdfeld said.

Following the company's hiring process, Whitewater will have over 1,000 employees, and Jefferson will have upwards of 400.

Jagdfeld added the company will plan to hire an additional 50-75 people in other positions across the business such as engineering, IT, finance and sales.

"It’s going to be a very busy next couple of months for our HR teams and our recruiting teams," he said.

The Covid-19 pandemic, however, has impacted the hiring process. It is much more difficult to do interviews, Jagdfeld said. Instead of traditional face-to-face interviews, Generac has developed some more creative hiring procedures, utilizing video conferencing and a drive-by interview process.

"We actually had a drive-thru interview process where people sat in their car and kept their window up. We called them on their phone and did the interview right there in the parking lot while they stayed in their car," Jagdfeld said.

These procedures help take down some of the barriers people have around safety and the coronavirus.

Generac is following all the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines within its manufacturing facilities. Employees are spaced out on the production lines, and the company is instituting enhanced cleaning protocols. Generac also had a mask requirement before the state emergency order was issued.

"It’s hard. People have to wear masks. It’s summertime. It’s uncomfortable, and we know that. We’ve taken our starting wages up," Jagdfeld said.

Generac increased its starting wages in Whitewater and Jefferson to $15 an hour, the highest it has been for the company.

"We’ve got to get these people, and we’ve got to get them fast. We’re looking for the kind of people that want to make a career of this, not just somebody who wants to come in temporarily, but wants to come in and be a part of Generac and part of our growth in the future here," Jagdfeld said.



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