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Winning the Talent Wars by Growing from Within

| Manufacturing

Nine years ago, Selim Taylor was a student at the College of Natural Resources at NC State University.

His professional focus was wood products.

In order to graduate, he needed an internship.

He found one at Arauco-North America in Moncure, Chatham County.

“Arauco took me on,” said Taylor. “They liked me and my work and, so, they kept me on longer until I graduated and I was hired as a full-time employee after that.”

Fast forward to present day, Taylor has worked his way up the ladder to become a process improvement coordinator at Arauco, a manufacturer of engineered wood products.

“All of our top-level operators were entry-level employees at one point and have built on their knowledge from different positions,” said Taylor. “It culminates to a very specialized knowledge, which is why we strive hard to keep our employees because it takes a long time to make a good, strong employee.”

That message of growing from within resonated with Nathan Honeycutt, a continuous improvement manager who has been with Arauco for seven years.

“I really like the team we have here,” said Honeycutt. “I’ve been with this team pretty much the entire seven years I’ve been here, for the most part the same team. We’ve got a lot of trust with each other.”

Arauco manufactures and distributes products such as composite panels, plywood, millwork, molding, TFL (thermally-fused laminate), lumber, and wood pulp.

“We take wood chips, and we basically grind that down, dry it, put additives into it, make a matte, and press it into board,” said Taylor. “That board is used in several different products from flooring to furniture to molding.”

“What’s really cool is you’ll see our products in a variety of shelves, say at Lowe’s or Home Depot,” said Honeycutt.

Taylor said it’s a great feeling to see the products he and his team make at home improvement stores.

“It’s always fun with my wife when we go to Lowes and we’re shopping and I go through the lumber area and I see the MDF (medium-density fiberboard),” he said. “I tell my wife, ‘Hey look, I made that at my mill.’”

But even more than seeing their products in stores, both Taylor and Honeycutt said it gives them great pride to know that their products become important parts of peoples’ homes.

“The products that we make help create a quality of life for customers in terms of home improvement, their furniture, their flooring, things that they use in everyday life,” said Taylor.

Arauco’s Moncure site has 240 employees, but much like many manufacturing companies and industries, the need for talent is immense.

“There’s a lot of industry competition in this area,” said Taylor. “It takes many years to really cultivate and grow the knowledge that it takes to run this mill properly. It’s a great industry to work for to start entry level and grow from within and be top-level operators, management. There are a lot of different ways that you can branch out.”

One of the main reasons that he enjoys working at Arauco and plans to work there for a long time, Taylor said, is the fact that leadership trusts its employees to do their jobs.

“We’re able to make very big and important decisions that affect the mill,” said Taylor.

Ultimately, it means a team that cares about the work it does.

“We’ve got a lot of talent, a lot of knowledge,” said Honeycutt. “It’s just like a good working family.”

“When you have people like that working with you, it’s easier to accomplish things when you have a common goal,” said Taylor.


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