PLATTSBURGH — Filling the remaining 10 to 15 full-time slots at the local Pactiv operation hasn't been easy. 

Plant Manager Lary Divine said the 74 Weed St. facility has room enough for 128 workers, but isn't to capacity yet. 

"It might be shocking to hear, but out of every 10 employees that we interview and we move to the next level and give an offer to, only about 2 of those employees stay," Divine said. 

The plant operates under a 12-hour-shift model and most new hires get assigned the overnight block.

"It's tough to find that person that's OK with both of those things, working 12 hours and it being overnight," Divine said. 

But scheduling hasn't been the facility's only staffing roadblock, the plant manager said many applicants also fail the standard drug test. 

"We've had our challenges," he said. 

NEIGHBORHOOD PLANT

Pactiv Corporation falls under the Reynolds Group Holdings Limited umbrella alongside brand names like Reynolds Wrap and Hefty. 

The manufacturer operates some 40 plants across North America, including its 166,000-square-foot campus in the City of Plattsburgh. 

Products can vary from location to location, Divine said, but the local operation manufactures molded-fiber products. 

Those have a thick, paper-like consistency, he added, like the burrito bowl at Chipotle Mexican Grill. 

"We don't make that bowl, but that's an example of a molded-fiber product," Divine said.

Right now, the local plant produces about 36 million pounds of products each year. 

FUTURE LOOKS GOOD

And those paper-like products are compostable. 

"What we have seen recently is the big push to go to a more sustainable product," Divine said.

As such, production at the Plattsburgh plant supports Pactiv's sustainable line with products like plates, school lunch trays and even the cup carriers found at Dunkin' Donuts. 

"There's a lot of investment that Pactiv is putting into this facility to expand our product line and meet the growing service demand that we have from customers who want to transfer to a more sustainable product," Divine said. 

"The future here is actually quite good."

UPPED ANNUAL OUTPUT

One key investment will be coming soon.

Pactiv has planned a $5 million project to get all of the manufacturing lines at the local facility up and running. 

Though the plant has 16 lines, it only has the utility capacity to run 12 of them at once, Divine said.

"We use a lot of steam to power our equipment," he explained. "We don't have enough vacuum pressure in the facility to run all of our lines."

And so the project, expected to take six to 9 months, would allow Pactiv to up its level of employees and its annual production.

By the end, Divine said, the facility could be outputting an additional 12 million pounds of product each year.

MORE HIRES 

The plant in the City of Plattsburgh has room for 10 to 15 full-time packers now, but that number will grow with the investment. 

Divine said he expects more than 40 more full-time slots to open up.

"We're talking over the next six to 9 months, we would like to be at a 173 headcount," he said. 

"We're trying to attract as many folks as possible."

WALK-IN INTERVIEWS

While the facility's 12-hour, overnight shift can be a bummer, Divine said working for Pactiv has its upsides, too. 

The manufacturer offers benefits, facilitates special events and provides competitive hourly rates. 

"An employee on day one is going to start at $15.68 per hour," Divine said, adding that the wage would be valid for a three month probationary period. 

"After those three months, they're bumped up to $17.18 per hour," he said. "Our closest competitors are around the $13.50 or $14 range — if you're lucky. 

"We're very competitive when it comes to pay, especially in Plattsburgh."

Divine said the local plant offers walk-in applications on every Wednesday and Thursday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 

"Come in and fill out application," he said. "Most of the time, we're able to do immediate interviews."

 

Email McKenzie Delisle:

mdelisle@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: @McKenzieDelisle

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