COURTESY OF KATE WILHITE
Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories raised its starting wages from $15.50 to $16 per hour on May 1.
Leith Sorenson, SEL senior vice president of manufacturing, said when the starting wage went up, so did the wages for the other hourly employees. SEL’s goal is to provide good wages and benefits for every position, and the slight increase in wages reflects that.
“When we announced it … we got a lot of great feedback from our employees,” he said. “They are very appreciative of what we decided to do.”
The wage increase is beneficial because when the company can raise its employees’ pay, it benefits them as well as the community, Sorenson said.
“When an employer can raise their wages, it’s going to have a positive impact on the employees [and] their families,” he said. “I am sure some of those employees will find ways to invest back into the community.”
SEL offers the same benefits to its assemblers at the starting wage as everyone else in the company. The employees all get a salary and are eligible for insurance as well, Sorenson said.
Along with the increase in wage, SEL opened up 50 new job positions in response to customers’ strong demand for energy, he said.
“Energy is a critical industry,” Sorenson said. “We are seeing a strong demand and we’re excited to be able to continue to support our customers and provide additional opportunities for people to get a start with SEL.”
Sorenson said he is happy about the new jobs because it opens up new areas of growth for employees.
“In addition to starting wage, I get excited about … the opportunity that we’re giving people to learn new skills and grow their career and share in the ownership of SEL,” he said.
Kate Wilhite, SEL senior program manager, said offering the new positions is exciting and has built opportunities for new employees. While many of these jobs are entry-level positions, there is still a possibility to grow throughout the company.
“You get one of these jobs just out of high school and have that career growth if you come on board and work hard,” she said. “It’s cool to have that level of opportunity.”
Wilhite said Sorenson started as an assembler at SEL and moved his way up to the senior vice president of manufacturing.
“We’re all really excited and proud to work for an employer who offers not only good wages and benefits but just excellent opportunities for career growth across the board,” she said.
*Editor’s note: This article has been corrected to show that Leith Sorenson started as an assembler at SEL, not an ambassador.