Attracting and retaining quality employees is a constant part of what Meadville-area manufacturing firms say they must do as increases in the use of high technology requires high-tech skills.

Acutec Precision Aerospace Inc. of Meadville constantly is looking for skilled workers because of the company’s business — making components and subassemblies for various aerospace firms.

The company has used conventional means such as job fairs and campus job fairs plus holding open houses and participating in manufacturing events to find potential recruits, according to Elisabeth Smith, Acutec’s president and chief executive officer.

Acutec has about 450 people locally, but it’s still trying to find others as its business keeps growing. In recruiting, Smith said her firm looks at areas as far away as eastern Michigan — where manufacturing downsizing or plant closures may have taken place — in an effort to find skilled labor.

Acutec recently hired Bull Moose Marketing to develop a comprehensive marketing plan to find workers.

“It’s hard to find experienced people,” Smith said. “We’re targeting four areas (with the new marketing plan) — veterans, experienced machinists, inexperienced machinists and women. We’re looking to find them in the area as well as bring in people from outside our area.”

Companies such as Acutec are willing to invest in worker training, according to Tami Adams, executive director of the Northwestern Pennsylvania chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Association, a trade group for the tooling and machining industry. Many of the area’s tooling and machining shops are suppliers of tools, equipment and parts to major manufacturers.

“If someone has mechanical aptitude and a good attitude, companies can train people to do the job,” Adams said. “Companies are willing to train people.”

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at

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