The parking lot around the Eddie Lee Smith Multi-Purpose Building filled up and a long line of job seekers wrapped around the corner of the building waiting to get in. Inside, Niagara Bottling LLC took applications for employment at its new facility in the Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park in Marshall County. The company hoped to hire 55 people, said Denieth Sutton, director of economic development and government relations for Niagara. Approximately 600 people attended the recent career fair, she said. Fifty team members were hired and three additional offers were made but had not been accepted at the end of the day.
Niagara conducted an organized and quiet career fair. Forty-five team members from across the country interviewed prospective employees. Headquartered in Ontario, Calif., team members from the corporate and plant portfolio conducted the interviews in one day. Sutton said the interviewing team members already know their roles in the different plants across the country and that it is that knowledge and culture that makes the career fair a success. “We want that full-court press to help our Byhalia/Marshall County team,” Sutton said.
Those who are offered and accept a job will train at a sister plant. The closest is located in Coweta County, Ga., outside Atlanta. However, the Byhalia/Marshall County team will likely train at the sister plant in Wisconsin. Niagara has about 25 plants across the United States and one in Mexico. People ask if Niagara Bottling gathers its waters from Niagara Falls, N.Y. Sutton smiled. “There is no connection with Niagara Falls,” she said.
The career fair focused on production, warehouse, maintenance and quality positions. Production positions will be filled first. Those include two groups: quality production and warehouse and maintenance. Under these two groups are an array of job descriptions, all connected with production. The management team is in place, Sutton said. The management team, which consisted of from six to eight team members, is in place and was part of the career fair interviewing process. They know the type of persons they are looking for. With face-to-face interviews, team members have the opportunity to not only ask skill and experience questions, but to determine attitude and company cultural fit. “We (the management team) absolutely like to have contact with people,” Sutton said. “Training and investment in people is part of the company culture. We know we have to invest in training and in time and resources to train prospective employees.”
Sutton said Niagara has careers to offer applicants, if they want an opportunity to advance within the company. That is what she has done. Niagara is a family-owned, privately held company begun in 1963 by the Andrew Peykoff Sr. family. “Mr. P., as he is affectionately known, is our founder and still chairman of the board,” Sutton said. “His son, Andy Peykoff II has been president and CEO for the last 14 or 15 years. “We have a culture we call Niagara LIFE:
• L – lead like an owner.
• I – innovate, be creative and take action.
• F – find a way. ‘When people say things are impossible, we find a way.’
• E – empower to be great.”
Niagara wants to be in production in Marshall County in April of this year. The plant will produce spring water and purified drinking water products for its customers. The water for the purified drinking water product will be taken from the Marshall County Water Association. Everything is stripped out of the water and it is built back according to a recipe for certain customers, Sutton said. The products will be distributed to Niagara’s customers which include big-box retailers, club stores and grocery stores. Niagara is a manufacturer, not a retailer. “We have spring water and purified drinking water,” Sutton said.
She said Niagara Bottling will join with its local partners in making the community like a family. Once the local team is in place, trained and production is underway, Niagara will evaluate and determine ways in which the company will get involved in the community. Niagara will join with its local partners in making the community like a family. “One thing about us, we really like partnerships,” she said. “We come in and like to get involved in the local community initiatives.”
The company has a number of local initiatives in which it gets engaged – everything from school mentoring programs to planting sustainable gardens. Under its charitable umbrella, known as Niagara Cares, the teams are able to support a number of local and national partnership organizations. “We are a family company, no matter how large we grow,” she said. “Every team member is a part of that family.”
Team members helping with the interviews last Wednesday were from Indiana, Florida, Texas, Utah, California, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Mexico. Sutton said when team members gather to conduct a career fair it helps them solidify the company family culture. “We hope people think in terms of a career, not just a job,” she said. “You have the ability to move up and be promoted, if that’s what you want to do.” Sutton, who is located in Florida, has been with the company 10 years.
A view of the vehicles in the parking lot at the Multi-Purpose Building revealed cars and trucks with tags from Marshall, Benton, DeSoto, Fayette and Hardeman counties. Individuals who may have missed this career fair can go online and apply. Visit www.niagarawater.com and look under the career section.
Justin Hall, executive director of the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority, praised the cooperative efforts of Niagara Bottling team members and the Marshall County Board of Supervisors in conducting a superb career fair. “We are excited and welcome the opportunity that Niagara brings to the county,” he said. “We think they will be great corporate partners and bring challenging and well-paying jobs to Marshall County. “The cooperation between Niagara and the board of supervisors helped to bring this new manufacturing facility to our county. The board looks forward to working with them in the future.”