Vestas announces needs for 800 more workers in Colorado
July 19, 2014
Vestas is upping the ante again, putting out a call for another 800 employees by the end of the year to handle a recent spate of orders that will keep its Colorado manufacturing plants busy for the next two years.
The company announced on Friday plans to ramp up its workforce to a healthy 2,800, which would be the biggest in the company’s short six years in Colorado.
Vestas officials are now working through a backlog of orders representing 1,255 megawatts of generation since the beginning of the year, said Adam Serchuk, senior director of marketing and communications for Vestas-American Wind Technology.
“That’s a pretty good number that we’re pleased with and certainly a bigger number than an equivalent point in the year of 2013 and 2012,” Serchuk said. “It’s really an illustration of what’s behind the ramp-up of employees. We think the demand is there, and we’re confident and optimistic about the trajectory of the company.”
In March, Chris Brown, Vestas’ president of sales and service division in the United States, announced a hiring wish-list of 2,000 by the end of the year — a goal the company already has met, Serchuk said.
“We’ve had a very successful, healthy 18 months of sales,” Serchuk said. “And on the back of that, our factories are busy today, and I’d expect them to be busy, just on those orders we signed and announced publicly, through the beginning of 2016.
“These are new blue-collar jobs that combine manufacturing with high tech design, and we just feel great about it,” Serchuk said.
Vestas has four factories in Colorado — a blade factory in Windsor, adjoining blade and nacelle factories in Brighton and a tower factory in Pueblo. Windsor was the company’s first factory in North America. All four properties make turbine parts for orders in North America and Latin America.
Serchuk said he couldn’t speak to exact number of employees for each property, but said the Brighton properties were set to fill 400 of those positions.
“Most of the people we’re looking for today are for the two blade facilities,” he said.
That will bring the number of Colorado hires alone this year to 1,500, which comes not even a year after Vestas instituted massive layoffs in the state. From 2012 to 2013, the company trimmed its Colorado workforce by about 500 people, as the company dealt with a worldwide slowdown, and while it waited to see if Congress would extend the Production Tax Credit, which made it cheaper for wind farmers to produce electricity.
The PTC gave producers a 2.3 cent credit per kilowatt hour of electricity produced for 10 years. Congress extended the credit for projects started in 2013 and produced through 2015. The credit has yet to be extended again, but Vestas officials are hopeful that program will continue, as it works to drive down the cost of producing electricity from wind.
“We’re optimistic the PTC will be extended and ultimately expect a more stable and predictable policy environment for clean energy, but we’re not basing our business plan on those hopes,” Serchuk said.
“Vestas does not receive the tax credit, it goes to the customers. It matters a lot to our business, so we keep an eye on it, but we’re not risking the company on the hope that everything will go right on the policy.”
Job applicants with manufacturing experience could get into the doors first.
“If market conditions allow us the kind of success we’re establishing today, we hope these people will be with us 40 years from now,” Serchuk said.
There is a way for inexperienced people to join the Vestas windmill. They can start as temporary workers through a staffing agency, and prove their worth.
“As the orders come in we get more and more confident that we can accept and meet commitment to employees for stable, long-term employment,” Serchuk said.