UPDATE: Piper looking to hire local workers

VERO BEACH — Piper Aircraft, which has said it expects to increase production by over 50 percent this year, is gearing up for the added workload by advertising for open positions on its Web site.

The link on its Web site at www.newpiper.com says “Piper Aircraft, Inc. has future employment opportunities for skilled trade workers for the following positions at its Vero Beach location” and lists open positions for a variety of jobs including lathe mill operators, fiberglass workers, sheet metal mechanics and sub-assemblers. “Piper President and CEO Kevin J. Gould announced during a news conference last week at the Singapore Airshow that Piper would have aircraft deliveries of more than 50 percent in 2010 as compared with 2009,” said Piper spokesman Mark Miller. “Because of that increase, coupled with specific manpower needs in various operations within the company, Piper is looking to expand its labor pool.”

There was no word on when the positions would actually be filled and how many jobs are available, but it is clear Piper is ramping up for increased production in the coming months.

“Although we have not exhausted our list of former employees to recall,” said Steve Johnston, Piper’s Vice President of Human Resources, “we have  recently had a number of recalls who have either secured other jobs or have left the Vero Beach area.  As a result, and in anticipation of increased manufacturing demand in the second half of 2010, we are seeking to build a pool of qualified potential employees.”

Johnston did make clear that, “Piper will recall qualified former employees before we hire off the street.”

The company has continued to hire engineers for its PiperJet project and has added a few positions after reaching a marketing agreement with a Czech Republic company to market and distribute a light sport aircraft to be called PiperSport.

Piper, which accepted state and county money to stay in Vero Beach to build the PiperJet, has been unable to meet employment quotas tied to the deal due to the worldwide economic recession. The company has been forced to use layoffs and furloughs to match production with shrinking demand.

However, the notice that the company is advertising “future employment opportunities” is another sign the contraction the company has gone through may be at an end.

The company has already begun hiring back some laid off workers and went to a full-time 40 hour work schedule on Jan. 1.

Anyone interested in applying for work should visit the Piper Web site at www.newpiper.com and follow the link labelled company to careers.

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