Northwoods employers look to fill workforce, line up to hire laid-off workers from Drs. Foster and SmithSubmitted: 01/11/2019
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter

Northwoods employers look to fill workforce, line up to hire laid-off workers from Drs. Foster and Smith
RHINELANDER, LAC DU FLAMBEAU - Wednesday's announcement of mass layoffs at Drs. Foster and Smith (DFS) in Rhinelander triggered disappointment and frustration.

But it set other Northwoods companies into motion.

Businesses starved for workers see it as an opportunity see an opportunity to fill their open jobs while helping laid-off workers.

Curt Priefer first thought about the layoff news was its "devastating" effect for Rhinelander.

His second thought was about his own company.

"Looking to help those individuals relocate, possibly here at HyPro," Priefer said.

Priefer is the operations manager at HyPro, a Rhinelander manufacturer. The company wants to hire 15 to 20 new machine operators with no experience necessary.

Although the type of work is different from DFS, a pet supply distributor, the location isn't. HyPro is just a few hundred feet from DFS, which is owned by Petco.

"Not only are we neighbors to Petco, but we're looking to offer opportunities for those individuals to slide over into something new, stay in the community, and grow in the community," Priefer said. "HyPro's truly about a culture, family-orientated business, one that creates and inspires growth opportunities."

Other Northwoods employers hope to catch the attention of laid-off workers, too.

"I went to, 'How can I get ahold of all these great employees?'" said Juanita Huguley, the Director of Lending Operations at LDF Holdings in Lac du Flambeau. "Some of them have customer service skills or call center experience."

Huguley manages the lending services call center. More than 100 of the workers to be laid off from DFS work in its call center, and Huguley wants them.

"That kind of talent is rare in this area, and to get some of those people here would be amazing," Huguley said. "I can't wait to get ahold of them."

Huguley says her salary is competitive, benefits are good, and workplace is relaxed.

"I enjoy working here. The competitive wages, the flexible schedule, it's a very diverse working space. Very positive," said Laurie Wildcat, who has worked there nine months.

"You're coming to work today, but it's not really work. You're coming to a gathering of great minds," said Antoinette Beaudry, an operations supervisor.

The call center will join HyPro in the chase for DFS workers who won't have a job come March 10.

"I really want to let the team members of Petco know we're here, and we would love to hear from you," Priefer said.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com


Play Video

TRIPOLI - A vehicle struck and killed a mother bear last Thursday evening on Hwy 8 outside of Tripoli. USDA Wildlife Services has been searching for her three orphaned cubs. They set up cub traps near the scene. After three days there have been no sightings. 

Wildlife Biologist David Ruid has been involved with the search and said rehab is the safest option for the cubs and people.

"In a lot of situations, if you don't capture and remove those cubs they're going to continue to hang out in that area and could be struck by a vehicle," said Ruid. "There's a potential for a vehicle accident. The best solution is to capture and rehab them for the year."

+ Read More

MADISON - Lawyers for Ashlee Martinson won't get a chance to argue their case before the state Supreme Court.

When Martinson was 17 years old in 2015, she killed her mother and stepfather at their home east of Rhinelander.

She's now serving 23 years in prison.

On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to hear her appeal.

Her lawyers argued that, because of her history and mental state, she didn't think she had a choice whether to kill her parents.

+ Read More

Play Video

MERRILL - Ed Kemery's Facebook group doubled in size over the last few weeks, sparking an interest in something he knows very little about.

"Almost no experience at all in theater," Kemery admitted.  "I kind of see myself as a catalyst [here.]"

Kemery grew up in Pennsylvania, but moved to Merrill two years ago to get closer to his wife's home town. Recently, the couple thought about what would draw in more people and settled on a dinner theater.

"I thought, well, why not Merrill"" Kemery said.

+ Read More

PLOVER - A Plover woman died after she was hit in a parking lot over the weekend.

According to Plover police, Rose Ann Krueger was walking through the Copps Grocery Store parking lot on Plover Road around 8:15 p.m. Saturday when a 2010 Nissan Titan SUV hit her.

Krueger, 72, was taken to Aspirus Hospital in Wausau where she later died.

+ Read More

OSHKOSH - The badger state crowned new royalty in Oshkosh this summer. Alyssa Bohm, formerly Miss Rock River Valley, won the Miss Wisconsin pageant Saturday. 

Along with the crown and title, Bohm earned a $10,000 scholarship and will represent Wisconsin at the 2020 Miss America Competition.

Bohm hopes to use her platform to enhance opportunities for individuals with special needs. 

+ Read More

KENOSHA - Police in Kenosha are investigating the death of a 5-year-old boy who was dropped off at a hospital after he was shot.

Police say the shooting happened before 2 p.m. Monday at a Kenosha residence. Authorities got a call from staff at Froedtert South Hospital-Kenosha Campus after two people dropped off the boy, then left.

+ Read More

Play Video

MERRILL - Strawberry farmers wait all year long for three weeks each summer when their crops will be ready to harvest. Bad weather across the Midwest this spring left those producers behind schedule.

Mike Matushak with Engelberry Farm in Merrill says the strawberry harvest in Southern Wisconsin usually come sooner than it does in the North. Producers a little further south in Waupaca already rang in their harvesting season with a strawberry festival Saturday.

+ Read More
+ More General News