Outlook 2010: Adaptive Materials swamped with interest for its alternative energy engineering jobs
Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com
Call it a swamp full of resumes.
The Pittsfield Township-based fuel cell firm received 7,100 applications, a response reflective of the thirst for jobs in Michigan’s economy.
“The response was overwhelming,” Adaptive Materials chief business officer and co-founder Michelle Crumm said.
Using resume search software and a series of four or five questions distributed to each candidate, that massive pool of applicants was whittled down to 800. Eventually, the list was narrowed to 90 and the candidates visited the office for “an invite-only job fair,” Crumm said.
The pool is finally down to a manageable list of four or five candidates - but that means the company still has a few openings.
Interest is high, but Crumm said some ex-auto industry engineers are still turned off when she tells them she can offer $60,000 to $90,000 a year, instead of salaries in the six-figure range.
It’s a reality of the startup world, she said, where salaries are lower but employees get stock options that could turn into lucrative payments if the company is eventually sold.
“That’s exactly what entrepreneurs face if you actually want to create a sustainable business model,” Crumm said. “Salary seems to be one of the challenges.”
Adaptive Materials, she said, is seeking engineers who fit into the company’s culture. They must show drive and personal “empowerment,” she said - a willingness to tackle new challenges the company has not faced before.
“We’ve interviewed some amazingly intelligent people, but not just the right attitude or not empowered enough to take on the responsibility,” Crumm said.
Fueling Adaptive Materials’ growth is mounting interest in its portable power systems - which provide low-weight alternatives to batteries for various military and industry applications. The company’s latest contract was a $4.7 million deal to deliver 300-watt units to the U.S. Department of Defense. That followed a similar $3 million deal with the U.S. Air Force.
The growth means Adaptive Materials, which has about 55 employees, will probably have to add six to eight manufacturing jobs this summer, as well.
“We’ve had a very plugged sales funnel for a long time. All of a sudden it let loose and we have all these amazing (contracts) piled on top of each other,” Crumm said. “This year is just one success after another. It’s really just been an outstanding year.”
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