Company takes ‘a step out there’ with social media

Business Expo and Job Fair connects community to services, opportunities

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

CHERAW, S.C. — The 15th biannual Business/Industry Expo and Job Fair on Thursday inside the Cheraw Community Center featured the expected — dozens of booths that showcase the businesses, services and educational opportunities in and around Cheraw.

Mel West, though, directed her focus on the unexpected. West, human resources and safety director with Palmetto Brick Company in Wallace, spent much of her time huddled in her section of the former National Guard armory highlighting her company’s use of Facebook and other social media tools during the five-hour event, which began at noon and is sponsored by the Greater Cheraw Chamber of Commerce, Chesterfield General Hospital and the town of Cheraw.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Mel West, of Palmetto Brick Company is Wallace, highlights her company's new Facebook page was a way to recruit and retain employees.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Mel West, of Palmetto Brick Company is Wallace, highlights her company’s new Facebook page was a way to recruit and retain employees.

Facebook certainly isn’t new. But using it within her industry, West said, to engage potential customers as well as recruit and retain employees is a novel idea indeed. And it’s working. Palmetto Brick joined Facebook on July 28.

“It’s really kind of a step out there,” said West, who noted the company’s Facebook page had attracted 469 likes, or fans. “We’re getting a great response.”

West’s laptop was hooked to a projector, with showed the page to the public. Each workday, West said, she works to engage the audience. On Monday, it’s a trivia question. On Tuesday, she offers a wellness tip. Each Wednesday, there’s a “name that brick” photo guessing game. Thursday offers the chance for the company, established in 1919, to travel down memory lane. On Friday, West puts in the names of those who offered a correct response to Monday’s trivia into a drawing for a prize.

Each week, she also publishes the company’s newsletter on the page.

“We want everyone to access it,” West said, not just the employees.

West said the company boasted some 150 employees in 2008 before the recession hit. Now, she said, 78 people are employed in Wallace, where the bricks are manufactured, and in sales offices in Florence, Waccamaw and Monroe, N.C.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com David Sides, tourism and community development director, talks with visitors of the Business Expo and Job Fair about upcoming events in the town of Cheraw. His booth also offered a drawing for two tickets to Friday's Parker Millsap concert at Theatre on the Green.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
David Sides, tourism and community development director, talks with visitors of the Business Expo and Job Fair about upcoming events in the town of Cheraw. His booth also offered a drawing for two tickets to Friday’s Parker Millsap concert at Theatre on the Green.

“Things are better this year than they were last year,” West said.

There was one point in the company’s history where applicants were put on a wait list. The company received a letter dated Feb. 12, 1924 from Marion resident Boyd Godbold. Godbold was looking for a job. At the time, Palmetto Brick Company’s M.C. Thomason responded to say there were no vacancies.

Two years pass, and Palmetto Brick Company representative wrote Godbold, who had moved to Goldsboro, N.C. Despite the move, Godbold had apparently kept in touch.

“Dear Sir,” Godbold read shortly after the letter dated Feb. 13, 1926 was mailed, “Your letter of Feb. 7th to our Mr. Thomason has been turned over to us. We wish to advise that we can give you and that we would like to see you at the plant at your earliest convenience, to start work.”

On Thursday, West acknowledged the job market isn’t quite the same.

Part of Valerie Gargiulo’s job at Northeastern Technical College is to help prepare today’s youth for tomorrow’s workforce. Gargiulo, NETC’s dual enrollment coordinator, aims to reach high school students — from the Honor Roll aspiring engineer to the struggling 16-year-old freshman — and tries to match NETC resources and programs with a student’s individual strength.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com A Northeastern Technical College representative speaks with a local high school student about opportunities at NETC.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
A Northeastern Technical College representative speaks with a local high school student about opportunities at NETC.

Some of the appeal of a two-year college is obvious — lower tuition fees and campuses that are closer to home. Then there are the continuing education programs offered at NETC. Some of the “nontraditional folks” that might be interested in such courses visited the NETC booth Thursday.

Visitors have ranged from “very young, with their moms, to people in their 70s and 80s,” Gargiulo said.

Not every student is keen on learning in a traditional classroom environment. The college’s partnership with local schools helps identify students who might be better suited to a hands-on approach. Regardless of skill level or talent, Gargiulo said it’s all about finding what you like and learning how to turn that interest into a career. NETC can help, she said.

“If you can get passionate about something, you can be good at it,” Gargiulo said.

Robert Jones, chamber president, said midway through the biannual event that the participation was about as expected. The purpose of the event, he said, was met.

“It gives the businesses and industries a chance to showcase what they do,” Jones said. “There’s a lot in Cheraw. We’re pleased with what’s gone on.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

 

 

Filed in: Business, Cheraw, Featured News, Latest Headlines, News

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