OTC Great Dane Signings
Wednesday, June 13th, 2018
Graduating high school seniors’ signing ceremonies aren’t just for athletic scholarships anymore.
Ogeechee Technical College’s first-time job fair for area high school students, the Charge Ahead Hiring Expo, held May 3 in the college’s Natural Resources Building, led to a signing ceremony three weeks later for five area high school seniors. All five signed up May 23 to work at Great Dane’s Statesboro factory.
Matthew Richter, who graduated later that week from Southeast Bulloch High School, signed to work as a welder in Great Dane’s completions department. After dual-enrolling at Ogeechee Tech last school year, he received a welding certificate a few weeks before his high school diploma. Starting at $15 an hour, his expected wage is one of the highest among the new hires, whose pay will range upward from $11.70 an hour.
Gunner Fulton, also now a Southeast Bulloch graduate, will work in the tire mount area.
Kaitlynn Clem, who graduated that same week from Statesboro High, signed up to work nightshift in the department that puts walls on the big truck trailers Great Dane builds. But she has enrolled at OTC to learn welding beginning this fall.
Stacy Fleming, now with a Statesboro High diploma, will work in deck assembly. Birket Kennedy, who graduated from Metter High School the weekend before the signing, will work in the roofs and demold area. He isn’t an Ogeechee Tech student but is instead taking classes at Southeastern Technical College in Vidalia.
If these new employees stick with their jobs at Great Dane and do the work successfully, the company has promised them a $200 bonus after 90 days. Next, the company will provide a special scholarship after one year, details of which were still being worked out, said Melissa Long, human resources manager at the Great Dane plant.
After two years on the job, these employees will qualify for up to $5,000 a year tuition reimbursement for industry-relevant courses up to an undergraduate degree. Further reimbursement is available toward a graduate degree. The tuition reimbursement plan is a standard policy with Great Dane.
“We want to see them build a career and move up through our organization,” Long said.
She credited human resources generalist Heather Merritt with the idea for the signing.
“Really the Charge Ahead Hiring Expo that Ogeechee Tech had was our opportunity to meet these folks,” Merritt said. “So they were a natural pool to pull from, people who are ready to go into work as well as allow us to cultivate them kind of side-by-side with Ogeechee Tech for some of the skills that we need out there in the manufacturing environment.”
The Charge Ahead event allowed 19 employers in fields with high-demand careers to interview 131 students from area high schools, Ogeechee Tech announced. Participating schools included Statesboro High, Southeast Bulloch High, Portal Middle High, Transitions Learning Center, Statesboro STEAM, Claxton High, Metter High and Screven County High.
“I think it’s important that we recognize that young folks take different pathways to get to where they want to go, and the great thing about this is Great Dane is encouraging them to continue their education while they go to work for them” said OTC Vice President for Economic Development Jan Moore. “It’s a great situation for these young folks.”
Both Great Dane and OTC issued news releases publicizing the signing ceremony.
“One of our core values at Great Dane is that quality products start with quality people,” stated Great Dane Statesboro Plant Manager Josh Frey. “We are always looking for new ideas and new talent, and are proud to partner with Ogeechee Technical College to support local graduating seniors with their career development.”