Growing Long Beach Is Presented In Partnership With The Long Beach Economic Development Department
The City of Long Beach’s workforce development arm, Pacific Gateway, is a resource for both employers and job applicants in Long Beach and Signal Hill, as well as the Los Angeles harbor communities. For job applicants, the organization offers educational seminars, job fairs and skills training workshops. For employers, Pacific Gateway helps narrow the search and fill open positions with the best-qualified candidates. Lucius Martin, business engagement manager at Pacific Gateway, described his agency as the “connective tissue” between the city and its employer base.
The first step in connecting a company to new workers is discerning what the company’s “pain points” are, Martin told the Business Journal. To do so, Pacific Gateway representatives meet the company management and discuss what they need to increase the productivity or quality of their workforce. The agency then invites applicants to employer information sessions and recruitment events. “We invite the employer to our offices and they provide an overview of their company culture, current opportunities, the variety of positions,” Martin said. “They talk about their benefits, the pay, and just give as much information as someone would need to make a decision on whether it’s a good place to apply to.”
One employer to utilize this program was Dion and Sons, a longtime local business that is part of the Amber Resources (AR) family of petroleum distribution companies. AR is headquartered on the property that includes the original Long Beach Dion and Sons offices.
“It was amazing, but Lucius is amazing,” Kerry Cashman, who handles human resources for AR and Dion and Sons, said of her experience with Pacific Gateway. “He kind of handed me everything on a silver platter and said, ‘We’ll do most of the work for you, as far as advertising and marketing. We’ll put everything together, we’ll give you the space to present your company and what you’re looking for, we’ll give you the space to interview.’”
Matt Cullen, owner and president of Amber Resources, said his company has grown to include six locations, 250 employees and about 105 trucks since his father acquired Dion and Sons in 1985. Last year, AR made a little over $200 million, and Cullen said there’s potential for even bigger revenues. The main obstacle, he told the Business Journal, is not finding more clients, but instead finding more drivers. “If drivers weren’t the issue, we could have doubled what we did last year in terms of growth,” Cullen said.
“Though they’re a large company, they have a small HR team,” Martin explained. “It’s hard for them to be everywhere and do everything. We’re able to come in and provide a free set of arms to identify talent.” With funding provided by state and federal sources, Pacific Gateway was able to put on a large recruitment event for Dion and Sons to identify potential drivers and administrative staff.
“Our events have been very successful with them,” Cashman said. “The first event I did we interviewed 22 people in a day. They advertised us, we did a little presentation about who we are and what we do, and 22 people scheduled interviews with us the following week. They’re very helpful in that way with getting our name out there to people that wouldn’t otherwise know about us.”
Through Pacific Gateway, Dion and Sons hired two drivers and two warehouse employees. The company is signed up to participate in two more job fairs over the next few months. Dion and Sons also recruited two high school interns this past summer, which was facilitated by Pacific Gateway. Martin said his agency identified the distribution company as a good match for a Long Beach Unified School District initiative, the Port of Long Beach Academy of Global Logistics at Cabrillo High School.
“The program was developed to introduce high school students to transportation businesses,” Cashman explained. The interns worked in the Dion and Sons office, one in accounting in dispatch and the other in HR. “They assisted with the recruiting, so they could see the candidates who would be good for the transportation industry.”
Connecting employers to educational programs like the academy is one of Pacific Gateway’s many services, Martin said. It’s an opportunity to engage with the next generation of workers. “The work that this company does is so instrumental with keeping the trucks fueled that we see on the highways, keeping the goods moving from the terminals to the railyards to the warehouses and beyond,” Martin said.