Puerto Ricans join local workforce

50 families leave ravaged island for Sidney

SIDNEY — Norcold has recently employed 50 workers from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, and others are arriving in Sidney, weekly.

“In recent years, the RV industry has experienced tremendous growth that’s led to an equally-amazing product demand. For many manufacturers and suppliers, meeting that demand has led to a labor shortage,” Norcold said in a release, Friday, April 13.

Over and above that “new normal” market demand, Norcold Inc., has recently experienced a high demand for its new Polar refrigerators at its manufacturing facility in Sidney, the release said.

To help relieve its labor strain, Norcold has turned to the American territory of Puerto Rico.

With the blessing of the Sidney-Shelby Economic Partnership, Norcold has partnered with a recruiting and placement agency to bring in direct labor employees. New employees and their families began arriving in late February, with additional recruits joining the company weekly.

“These are American citizens filling American jobs,” said Rob Trax, vice president of human resources of Thetford Corp. & Norcold Inc., North America. “No existing workers were displaced and all prospective workers are reviewed under the same selection criteria as all of our current workers. And this is a win-win situation, where we are helping good workers escape the tragedy of an economically-challenged Puerto Rico and they, in turn, help us fill RV industry orders.”

Trax said that these “great additions to the Norcold family” are integrating quickly into both the company culture and, with help from the local community, the area.

“The community response has been overwhelming positive,” he said. “Community members have really stepped up and embraced the new workers. We are all very appreciative that housing, schooling, transportation and the many other areas that support a healthy and balanced work life are being provided by many members of the community.”

Civic leaders who convened to help smooth the arrivals were Shelby County Commissioner Julie Ehemann, Sidney City Schools Superintendent John Scheu, realtor Tim Gleason, Sidney-Shelby Economic Partnership Executive Director Mike Dodds, Sidney Visitors Bureau and Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Raible and Sidney City Manager Mark Cundiff.

50 families leave ravaged island for Sidney