Increased hiring at Lufkin Industries seen as a major upswing for the local economy

By Holley Nees - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – New jobs are headed to a Lufkin company who needs help meeting increasing demand. Lufkin Industries officials say the North America and Canada markets are picking up, which means they are ready to hire more than 100 new employees.

Lufkin Industries has been around since the 1920's.  Like most companies it has seen its share of ups and downs.  These days L-I looks to be on the upswing.  One sure sign, they are working overtime on Saturday which means they are looking to expand their workforce.

"We're really looking to get people on-board today because in order to meet our demand for the second and third quarter of production, we really have to get people in and get them trained up, "Brian Gifford, Lufkin Industries VP of Human Resources, said.

Lufkin Industries announced they are hiring about 120 people by March.  That's good news for the local economy.  Gifford said just this past week L-I hired 19 people who have started orientation.  The company expects to add to that number next week.

Government and community leaders are keeping a close watch on the new hiring activity.  Angelina County Judge Wes Suiter said retail and service jobs have kept unemployment rates below the state average, but the quality of jobs Lufkin Industries provides will help stimulate the local economy.

"Our retail and food service industry and hospitality industry have mainly created that reduction with our unemployment and those are needed jobs, don't get me wrong, there's a void for that and a need to fill that void, but there's also a need to attract high-paying jobs that have more benefits and be able to provide a better quality of life for the families," Judge Suiter said.

With this company paying $10 to $15 an hour plus benefits, these jobs are valuable to the area.

"We've got a lot of folks here that have been here 30 years and more, so we're not some fly-by-night firm that hires for a little while and then lays off pretty quick, we really are in this for the long-haul," according to Gifford.

L-I needs help from production workers to welders to machinists in order to keep up with the growing demand.

As the company expands local officials say they are keeping their fingers crossed, hoping L-I's news is the beginning of a turning point for the local economy.

Gifford said their biggest challenge is finding highly qualified local talent.  They're working with unions to train workers to be more productive in a competitive international market.

Lufkin Foundry manufactured railroad and sawmill equipment during the early 20th century, then expanded into new markets by pioneering oilfield pumping units in the 1920's and in 1939 stepping into the industrial gear and truck trailer markets.

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