By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – It was standing room only in the Crockett Civic Center conference rooms as a company who wished to remain anonymous attracted between 300 to 350 prospective new employees to apply for a host of positions.

As to the anonymity, company representatives – who also wished to remain anonymous – said the reason for secretive nature was because another East Texas city was courting them.

The company is an Information Technology (IT) based business which will help design, take care of and service their customers’ IT needs.

Following a brief presentation and once all the attendees had entered their name and contact information into a database, company representatives spoke with The Messenger.

Asked why Crockett was selected as one of the two finalists for their new facility, one of the company reps explained, “We like looking at small rural towns that used to have a really good economic output but are now lacking it. We tend to stick to the smaller towns. We have found people there are more eager and motivated to get into a new career or make a career change.”

During the initial part of their presentation, a training program dubbed as a “boot camp” was discussed.

“Typically, we do full-time recruiting – building up our pipeline. We have people on the help desk side and people on the dev (development) side. We are looking for soft skills. On the help desk side we are looking for people who are patient and have the ability to connect,” she said.

Both the dev side and the help desk side are required to take a personality test (Wonderlic) to see what a candidates’ strengths and weaknesses are. For the help desk, the training lasts two weeks while the development training lasts nine weeks.

Specifically asked what the development side of their business entailed, the representative explained, “They are doing everything from the front end to the back end. They are learning how to code, learning how to do QA (quality assurance), they’re learning how to do sequel and they are learning how to do everything.”

“Our ultimate goal is to get the applicants to graduate from the training so we can put them on the payroll,” she said.

The prospective employees are not paid during training and are considered interns. When asked what the average starting pay was for a new employee, the representative said she was not able to disclose an exact figure because it was based off of economies of scale and what the employee would be doing.

The positions, however, are full-time and come with benefits such as medical, dental and vision.

As to what it would take to bring the business to Crockett, one of the representatives said it would be the people.

“We need to make sure our investment will be successful here. We want to make sure we get the right people. We want people who are willing to work. We want people who want to have a career in IT and not just a job,” she said.

Hosted by the city of Crockett, City Administrator John Angerstein said he was pleased with the turnout and said it was bigger than he expected.

Angerstein explained the company had narrowed its choices down to either Crockett or, as it was later learned, the city of Jasper.

The city administrator also explained what it would take to tip the scales in favor of Crockett.

“Right now, the main deciding factor is going to be if we can get an adequate workforce. The decisions to hire people are not based on their credentials or certifications, but rather a person’s attitude and aptitude. Can they learn their program? Can they learn their process?” Angerstein explained.

He said the initial plan is to start with between 50 and 75 new hires and hopefully work up to 300 employees. 

“We will continue to pass information along to those who could not make this date. Hopefully, that will allow them to log-in and enter their information for consideration,” he said.

Also in attendance was Crockett High School Principal Deborah Revels who said she had brought the entire CHS senior class to the job fair.

“I hope we get this (facility). Our students need this and it’s a different avenue for them to use. Technology is the way the world is going,” Revels said.

The principal was also asked if she knew the name of the company and if it had been revealed to her.

“No, they did not. She (the presenter) said they were not going to release that until it was decided which town they would go with,” Revels added.

The students were pretty excited when she first told them about the job fair, Revels indicated. She said she expected the students would return if Crockett was selected because “… they will all need a job, even if it’s just a summer job before college.”

A decision about where the company will locate is expected after the first of the year.

Will Johnson may be reached via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.