Segment to Highlight How They Got Hired
Tune in to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Saturday on Fox Sports, and you’ll meet three Spartanburg veterans who found jobs thanks to help from the SC Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) veterans’ team.
The Careers for Veterans 200 presented by the Cooper Standard Foundation and Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation will feature four veterans currently working for the Michigan-headquartered automotive manufacturing company. Three—Jeffery Nicholson, Joshua Klootwyk and Stafford Smith—are from the Spartanburg facility. And they were all referred to Cooper Standard by DEW representatives.
In fact, Cooper Standard and DEW have forged a strong partnership during the past seven years.
“These guys are really good about getting vets, finding guys about to be discharged and forward thinking,” Cooper Standard Human Resources Manager Warren Snead said of DEW Spartanburg veterans’ staff Eric McAbee and John Lee.
Take Jeffery Nicholson, who retired last year after 20 years in the Coast Guard. This New Hampshire native wanted to retire in South Carolina and be close to family. He connected with McAbee, who assisted with a job search and referred him to Cooper Standard.
“He was so enthusiastic about helping me find a good job, one equivalent to what I did in service,” Nicholson said of McAbee. “It was a little tough at first, but he was always throwing something my way.”
Today, Nicholson is the second shift supervisor at Cooper Standard, where he oversees more than 55 people. He started as a production associate in September 2013 and three months later moved up to a team coordinator before getting the most recent promotion.
He said Cooper Standard welcomed him with open arms and provides a great working environment for veterans. The company in February formalized its commitment to hiring veterans at the urging of the National Association of Manufacturers and actor Gary Sinise, of “Forrest Gump” fame who started a foundation to help military service members, veterans and first responders. Cooper Standard partnered with NASCAR driver Keselowski, and in May the two announced they would sponsor the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway.
The Careers for Veterans 200 further supports Cooper Standard’s mission to recruit and hire top talent at a national level. According to company officials, since formalizing the veterans initiative earlier this year Cooper Standard has increased its veterans workforce by 16 percent.
In the Spartanburg facility, that success is due in part to the relationship between DEW veterans’ representatives and Snead.
“Most of the time we can get an interview right out of their office,” Snead said of McAbee and Lee. “I have even popped into their office… Eric and John and the folks in the DEW office in Spartanburg have done a remarkable job helping us field our expansion.”
He added with a laugh, “I should give them Cooper Standard business cards.”
So when it was time for Fox Sports to visit Spartanburg’s Cooper Standard plant and film veterans on the job so they could be spotlighted during the race broadcast, Snead invited McAbee and Lee to join in.
“It was just awesome,’’ McAbee said of the experience getting to watch on set.
As for Nicholson, who explained he spent his military career keeping things close to the vest, he enjoyed getting a chance to be a spokesman. He and his wife are looking forward to seeing what he looks like on television.
Check out the race and learn more about Cooper Standard’s commitment to hiring veterans beginning at 12:30 p.m. Saturday on Fox Sports.
Learn more about DEW’s employment services for veterans and find a veterans representative near you here.
Read more about Cooper Standard’s Careers for Veterans here.