Friday, December 3, 2010 - 12:01
BY STEVEN FRIEDERICH
As many as 600 job applications have been submitted online for openings at the new Cosmopolis Pulp Mill, a company spokesman said.
The website http://www.cosmospecialtyfibers.com went live one week ago, on Thanksgiving Day, to wide publicity through local media outlets including The Daily World and the Associated Press and extensive advertising.
"We opened up last Thursday and we have between 550 and 600 -- give or take -- applications," said Cosmo Specialty Fibers spokesman Robert Buchan. "We're sorting through those now."
The company is seeking to recruit up to 150 employees for a mill re-start date of May 1.
Buchan said most of the applications are from Washington state but there are a few from out of the area, particularly from mill towns in Florida, Tennessee and Mississippi, where similar dissolving pulp mills currently exist or did exist at one time. On Thursday, the mill even got an applicant from India.
"Most of the applications start right here and go through Aberdeen, Olympia and up the I-5 corridor," Buchan said.
Buchan said the company is also trying to cater to those at Joint Base Lewis-McChord who are "returning veterans looking to transition into civilian life."
There has been some interest from Canada, as well, although with visa restrictions at the border there may be some problems hiring people from outside the country, Buchan said.
"One concern in hiring outside the area is the ability of job seekers being mobile," Buchan said. "Selling your house is really, really difficult right now. Maybe 2 to 3 years ago it would have been a whole different environment, but not now."
There's also been interest from several pulp chemistry schools for some of the specialized jobs.
The entire application process is being done online. Those without Internet access can go to their local Timberland Regional Library or the WorkSource Grays Harbor office for access.
"Right now we're just downloading like crazy and sorting and seeing who meets our requirements," Buchan said.
Buchan said the company's website never went down, despite all of the attention and there have just been a handful of applicants that have had problems with the web-integrated application process.
"We solved all of the problems," he said. "Some people are concerned that we may not have gotten their applications but believe me, we received them."
The goal is to accept applications through the end of the month and then test applicants -- using the Grays Harbor WorkSource --for literacy, knowledge of mechanics and safety procedures.
"This is a chemical mill and you have to read safety instructions," Buchan said. "We're going to keep doing this through the end of the year and send batches of people in for testing."
The Weyerhaeuser Co. closed the mill in 2006, laying off about 245 workers. In September, Weyerhaeuser sold the mothballed pulp mill to Cosmo Specialty Fibers and its ownership group made up of Los Angeles private equity firm the Gores Group and Dermot Smurfit, a paper and packaging industry businessman.
The mill currently has 80 to 100 people hired on as contractors, who work for outside companies that specialize in rebuilding mills, Buchan said.
The company has also hired several former Weyerhaeuser employees to help with the mill re-start.