YOUNGSTOWN – Linda Farina originally intended to work at Hynes Industries until her son graduated from college. That was nearly 25 years ago.
A college graduate herself with a baccalaureate in education, Farina’s plan was to be a teacher. But when she was trying to enter the workforce in 1979, teachers didn’t make very much money, she says.
So she worked in warehousing until a friend told her Hynes was hiring.
“When I came here, I said I’d stay five years to get my son out of college,” she says. “The benefits package alone is the reason I’ve been here almost 25 years. Plus the fact that I live four minutes from the shop.”
The work is challenging every day, Farina says, and she isn’t always doing the same job. One day she might be using a die. The next she could be running a milling machine, she says. “So it changes every day, which is good. I like that.”
Farina isn’t the only employee at Hynes to follow the manufacturing career path after trying other fields. Brian Shaner and Terrance Sullivan were considering careers in health care before coming to Hynes.
Shaner, an edger operator at the company, wanted to follow in the footsteps of his mother who was a nurse. He intended to pursue a career as an emergency medical technician but determined he “wasn’t cut out for that” and applied for a job at Hynes.
“I’ve always been a hands-on person,” Shaner says. “I like working with my hands. [I had] a lot of hobbies, stuff like that.”
It gave him a chance to work alongside his father until he retired after 30 years, Shaner says. His father and grandfather both worked for Hynes. Among the three of them they have a combined 70 years with the company, he says. Shaner is also president of USW Local 2377S.
Sullivan, a roll form machine operator at Hynes, started at the company nine years ago at the suggestion of his father-in-law, he says. Sullivan had been working in the medical field and had no previous mechanical work experience. But his father-in-law, who has been with the company for about 20 years, said he could earn a good living in manufacturing, Sullivan recalls.
“I’d never done anything like this,” Sullivan says. “I saw the place and I wanted to do it. And it was amazing work.”
The skills he’s learned are what makes it an amazing experience, he says, and the transition from the medical field was smooth. Sullivan appreciates knowing what he’s making will be used in everyday life.
“We make siding for houses; a lot of different things that you’d never know what things are made out of,” he says.
That’s one of the most rewarding things for Hynes’ employees, says Rick Organ, president and CEO. That’s particularly true for individuals who come from non-manufacturing backgrounds such as education and hospitality, which is something that Organ finds to be increasingly the case.
“I think what they find here is it’s probably a more rewarding experience for them,” Organ says. “They’re producing a part – and there’s a pride in producing that part – knowing where it’s going and what it’s being used for.”
Employees also enjoy how the job engages them physically and mentally, he says. Equipment operators need to be mindful of what they’re doing so they can make adjustments to the equipment as needed. It’s not as simple as pushing a button, he says.
“They have to be checking tolerances. They have to do quality checks. I think people find it very engaging work,” he says.
Hynes also provides opportunities for advancement. Sam Kriebel came to work for the company after Magna Seating closed its Lordstown operation following the closure of the General Motors Lordstown plant in 2018. Transitioning from automotive work to industrial was a bit of a challenge, Kriebel says, but the company assisted him in advancing to a mill operator’s position from starting out as a helper.
“They kind of ease you in, get you trained. They don’t just throw you right at it. It’s a lengthy training process,” he says. “There’s still more room to grow and move on just from the operator position as well.”
Sullivan agrees and says he sees opportunity for his own advancement within the company.
“There’s plenty of opportunity to move up,” Sullivan says. “We’ve had gentlemen who started on the floor like me and now they’re forming. So hopefully in the future I may be able to do the same thing.”
In addition to the Youngstown plant, Hynes operates locations in Painesville, Ohio, and Kokomo, Ind., employing some 170 across all three locations, including 119 locally.
Hynes is actively searching to hire more people between production and administration roles, Organ says. There are about eight production positions available companywide, half of which are in Youngstown. For quality, administration and supply chain, Organ says the company could use another four or five individuals.
“So in Youngstown, we’re looking for 10 positions pretty evenly split between productions and more administrative functions,” he says.
A 25% year-over-year increase in business is driving the need to hire, particularly with the company’s work in the solar market and the truck trailer industry, Organ says.
Hynes manufactures for and supplies the solar industry with structural components used in ground-mounted solar racking systems, as well as for rooftops and parking garages. That industry “has continued to grow at double-digit rates,” he says.
“That segment’s been really robust and the outlook for that is certainly very positive,” he says. “We’re probably among the largest producers.”
The truck trailer industry was “hit pretty hard in 2020” because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he says, but has come back “very strongly.” Beyond that, the broader industrial and construction markets have remained steady, despite steel prices tripling since August 2020, he says.
“We support basically the production lines of our customers. Most of our customers are [original equipment manufacturers]. So we’re supporting their production,” he says. “They can’t afford disruption to their supply chain.”
Hynes has had greater success in filling administrative roles although the company has needed to expand its geographical net to fill those jobs, Organ says.
“What we’ve found is that many of our people are coming from areas which are anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour radius driving time from Youngstown – Cleveland. Pittsburgh,” he says. “We’ve had to expand the radius of our geography to fill those positions.”
To attract more local workers for the production jobs, Hynes has implemented an incentive program for existing employees who refer friends, family and acquaintances to apply for jobs there. The company has also increased its use of job search websites like Indeed, “and we’re beginning to see more candidates come our way.”
This year, Hynes looks to increase its outreach efforts to the next generation workforce. That includes participating in more programs like Brain Gain Navigators and the YSU STEM program to connect directly with students and demonstrate what manufacturing work is all about, Organ says. Hynes is participating in a Navigators virtual tour on April 13.
“Unless [students] have a relative or know someone who works at Hynes or in manufacturing, they really don’t have much understanding of what takes place,” he says. “We’re going to keep pushing and go to high schools and younger to make students aware more generally of what opportunities are available to them in manufacturing, and more specifically at Hynes.”
Pictured at top: Terrance Sullivan worked in the medical field before coming to Hynes.