Working Iowa: New Leader Manufacturing looking to hire welders

New Leader Manufacturing in Cedar Rapids is growing, which is generating more need for workers.
Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 3:57 AM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Michael Hook has been a welder with New Leader Manufacturing in Cedar Rapids for about four years now. The company makes precision equipment to spread fertilizer on fields, in addition to salt and sand spreaders for road maintenance.

Hook does much of the final welding in the process. That means he sees lots of products right before they are painted and shipped out to customers. He said the last few months have been busy.

“We’ve been running a lot of overtime, a lot of early mornings, some late days,” he said. “A lot of hard work getting as many units through as we can.”

Right now there are about 80 to 90 people who work on the production floor in various roles such as fabricators, welders and assemblers. But CFO and COO Jeremy Wild says the business is growing.

“February is on track to be the largest sales month of the company’s history, both in parts and equipment,” Wild said. “Commodity prices are growing on the ag side with corn and soybeans coupled with low-interest rates.”

That means a need to hire more employees. Wild says he’s ready to hire for multiple positions like welders. Through a partnership with Kirkwood Community College’s internship program, New Leader can accommodate welders who are just entering the field.

“[We’re] looking at them as a career path of starting with simple welding and trying to grow their expertise into something that they can be more experienced at,” he said.

This makes it easier to hire candidates who might not have as much experience.

“We’ve got some good training programs and things in place to really help people come along and really make this a career trade and give them longevity to able to really have a career in manufacturing,” Wild said.

Employees then have the chance to move up within the company...and quickly.

“We have levels that we have people go through, almost like a passport system,” Wild said. We start them and as soon as they can generate production and show they’re moving through the organization and picking up their skill set.”

Michael Hook says the best employees have the right attitude.

“You gotta be ready to work hard, work with everybody and just strive to do a really good job,” he said.

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