Mercedes-Benz U.S. International (MBUSI) plans to launch an accelerated campaign to hire several hundred permanent production team members before the end of 2021 to allow its Alabama manufacturing operation to meet growing demand for its vehicles and prepare for new milestones.
MBUSI’s hiring wave aligns with the automaker’s strategic growth plans for its Alabama operation, which will begin producing two electric vehicles – the EQS and EQE sport utilities – in 2022. MBUSI is opening an EV battery pack assembly facility on a second Alabama campus in Bibb County.
The goal of MBUSI’s campaign is to attract candidates for permanent production team jobs by year’s end. MBUSI is seeking to reach workers with production experience, especially those in the auto industry, and less-experienced workers who have completed manufacturing training programs.
Team members hired as part of the program will be immediately eligible for all MBUSI benefit programs and a starting hourly pay rate of $20, rising to $25-plus an hour after regular wage increases over four years, plus a shift premium.
“MBUSI’s commitment to being the best luxury auto manufacturer in North America is most evident in our workforce,” said Michael Göbel, president and CEO of MBUSI. “As our production continues to accelerate and evolve, we are growing the team we’ve built with additional support on a local level.”
Steven King, a member of the assembly production team who has worked at MBUSI for 20 years, said openings at the manufacturing facility in Tuscaloosa County and battery plant in Bibb County represent a prime opportunity for career seekers.
“If you want to get out of a job and into a career, this is the place to be,” King said. “I like the family environment here. We get along well as a team. Everyone is approachable, including the higher-ups in management. These guys come out on the production floor and talk with the team members just like we talk with each other.”
MBUSI said jobs are available in assembly, the body and paint shops and in the battery plant, where workers will assemble high-voltage EV systems.
To qualify for the positions, applicants must possess a high school diploma or GED certificate, one to three years of manufacturing or industrial experience and be able to perform the essential functions of the jobs.
“This is an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of all the exciting new technologies in the transition of the world’s automobile manufacturing companies as they go from combustion engines to electric,” said Ed Castile, director of AIDT and deputy secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “This historic transition is taking place right here in Alabama, and Mercedes is at the very center of this work.
“Today, Mercedes is offering the opportunity to be hired directly into the plant and into a fascinating career in the automotive universe,” Castile said. “We at Commerce and AIDT are proud of the work Mercedes has done in our state, and to be in the forefront of this historic transformation as partners is simply awesome.”
‘Sky is the limit’
Doug Knox, who worked for a Tuscaloosa hospital before joining MBUSI 23 years ago, said the pay and perks he’s earned at the Mercedes factory have yielded major benefits for his family.
“It has helped me put my kids through college. They’ve all finished college. My wife and I can see the light now. It’s been good for my family,” he said.
New team members immediately qualify for MBUSI’s benefits package, which includes:
- Health and life insurance.
- Defined contribution retirement plan with a 401(k) match.
- Annual bonus.
- Paid holidays, vacation and emergency vacation days, along with a paid winter shutdown.
- Tuition reimbursement.
- On-site child care, medical center and fitness center.
Tamika Lee, who joined MBUSI 16 years ago after working in a sporting goods store, said new team members can expect an energetic work environment with a strong focus on quality production.
“For me, the best thing about working at MBUSI is the passion for the product, the passion for the brand. It just says it all – Mercedes. We have a great passion for the work. Knowing that I am part of that quality brand makes me feel good,” she said.
Janette Nelson, a body shop production team member, and King, on the assembly team, said comprehensive, ongoing training programs ensure that MBUSI employees can meet the demands of a high-tech workplace.
“Some of the new team members are a little nervous, and they all basically have the same thing to say: ‘I’ve never built a car before.’ I’ll tell them neither did I when I came here,” King said. “I had never seen this process and look at me now, 20 years later. We will teach you everything you need to know.”
Christina Long, a paint shop team member who is working to complete an engineering degree from Auburn University thanks to tuition reimbursement from MBUSI, said a spirit of teamwork makes the automaker’s plant a welcoming workplace.
“The main thing I love about this place is the diversity and inclusion. The fact that we come together with our own ideas – that just sets us apart,” said Long, who hopes to use her engineering skills to help program new robots deployed in the paint shop. “With all of our ideas coming together, nothing is unachievable, and the sky is the limit.”
MBUSI, which began building vehicles at the Tuscaloosa County facility in 1997, has 4,400 permanent MBUSI employees.
Since 1995, Mercedes-Benz has invested more than $6 billion in the Alabama plant and expanded its involvement in the Tuscaloosa region with another $1 billion in 2018. Much of this goes toward implementation of the electric offensive.
In 2020, more than 210,000 vehicles rolled off the production line, spread among the GLS and GLE sport utilities, the GLE Coupé and the Mercedes-Maybach GLS SUV.
This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.