Program honors local company for hiring U.S. service members
CHAMPAIGN — A Champaign-based employer that has been growing was heralded Thursday as an example of a company committed to hiring military service members.
Midwest Underground Technology Inc., which erects and maintains towers across the country, has hired about 20 service members so far this year, said Darrell Melrose of Hero 2 Hired, a program that helps place service members.
The company, based at 2626 Midwest Court on Champaign's northwest side, is seeking to add as many as 50 more employees by year's end, and several service members were interviewed for positions Thursday.
Among them were Sgt. Philip Powe and Pfc. Martell Thomas, both of Chicago, who were seeking jobs as tower technicians.
"This is a better opportunity that I won't get in the city," said Thomas, whose Army National Guard unit served in Afghanistan in 2008 and 2009.
Powe, who served in the Marine Corps for 10 years, later worked for the Postal Service and entered the Army National Guard 24 years after leaving the Marines.
He said the travel associated with the tower technician position appealed to him.
"I like the freedom of being able to come and go," Powe said. "It would be something new for me."
Melrose said he first became acquainted with Midwest Underground Technology Inc. at a job event in the southern Illinois community of Sparta.
"I talked with Jared (Sanders, MUTI's human resources director) that day and was taken with how dedicated they were to this," Melrose said.
On Thursday, the company signed a "statement of support" with Hero 2 Hired and a related program, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
Hundreds of employers in Illinois, including many in East Central Illinois, have signed similar statements, but MUTI has been a standout, Melrose said.
"Signing the statement of support is the sizzle, but what they're doing here (actual hiring) is the steak," he said.
Lt. Col. Tim Franklin of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program said MUTI is "among the top companies in the state in terms of active support and attendance at military job fairs."
"They've been very active in trying to hire veterans and National Guard and Reserve members," he added.
Sanders, the human resources director, said MUTI likes to hire those with military experience because they often have dedication, a strong work ethic and character that fits well with MUTI's emphasis on service, quality and safety.
Besides, he said, the company has an obligation to provide stable employment for those who protect the country.
Sanders said MUTI employs about 215 people at its main office in Champaign and at four regional offices.
He said he expects to add another 40 to 50 people just in Champaign this year, with many of those tower technicians and foremen who construct, climb and maintain cellphone towers. The company also plans to add microwave field technicians, he said.
The number of new hires this year with military service has already surpassed the number hired in all of 2012, Sanders said.
Melrose said service members can be good candidates for tower technician positions because those who served in the infantry often have experience rappelling from towers.
Some have been deployed in austere environments, understand how to work as a team and are used to cooperating with others of diverse backgrounds, he added.
Service members interested in getting assistance from Hero 2 Hired in finding a job can go to https://h2h.jobs/ and register on the website.
That information will go to a case management database, and someone will contact them within 48 hours, Melrose said.
The program can help them with writing resumes, connect them with job opportunities and provide letters of introduction, he said.