ANDERSON — When Michelin announced in 2012 it would build a new Earthmover tire plant in Anderson County, Michelin Chairman and President Pete Selleck challenged his team to hire as many local maintenance technicians as possible.
When the company opened the 800,000-square-foot manufacturing facility last year, the Michelin team exceeded this goal with 90 percent local hires — among them nine Tri-County Technical College students who spent the last year as Michelin Technical Scholars, Selleck told the college’s 580 graduates at the spring commencement held May 8 at the Anderson Civic Center.
“As a testament to the scholars themselves and Tri-County Technical College, all nine 2014 grads have passed our qualifiers and all will be working as maintenance technicians at our plants here in Anderson County. To have 100 percent job compliance is truly remarkable,” said Selleck, who is responsible for the coordination of all operations of the Michelin Group in North America (United States, Canada, and Mexico), consisting of 19 major manufacturing facilities, 22,000 employees and annual revenues of $10.76 billion.
“There is a significant benefit for Michelin in hiring locally. First, we know that we will retain local workers longer, and secondly we are investing back into the community where we live,” he added.
Selleck said the Michelin Technical Scholars program is an important part of being able to secure local, career-ready maintenance workers.
“It is essentially a full ride for those selected, and just as importantly, it provides the students hands-on experience as paid interns at one of the local production facilities,” he said. “These plant internships are a key part of the educational process, and the general feedback is that this experience helps students better grasp the importance of the classroom training after they see and work on the real equipment.
“For Michelin, the scholars program is good business. It is an investment, because ideally Michelin Tech Scholar graduates are gleaned for full-time jobs as maintenance technicians – a profession in high demand today,” he added.
Selleck stressed that not just technicians, but all of today’s employees need a broader skill set than they did three decades ago, adding that graduates are critical to America’s future, especially those in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
“The truth is that attaining a technical or engineering degree is tough. It is the harder path in school, but the sacrifice you make in the short term will pay off in the long term knowing how much your education and experience are coveted in today’s workforce,” he said.
He concluded his comments by congratulating the graduates for their hard work and tenacity.
“Today is one of those very rare days when you woke up and knew you would remember it for the rest of your life,” he said. “It is the culmination of years of hard work, sacrifice and dedication, and this is the time we take to mark a great milestone in life. You should celebrate your accomplishment, because a degree and a job are important; but remember in the end it is really all about serving others.”