Superior Closure Sparks Northwest Arkansas Efforts To Find Jobs for Workers

by Marty Cook  on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014 12:00 am  

Melissa Turner said it was a somber day said when the news came down that Superior Industries was closing its Rogers plant.

Superior, a maker of aluminum wheels for automobiles, announced July 30 that the Rogers plant would cease operations by the end of 2014 and, with its closing, most of the plant’s employees would be laid off. Some may transfer to Superior’s plants in Fayetteville or Mexico but a vast majority won’t — Superior’s announcement said about 500 people would lose their jobs.

But this is when the community stepped in, and not just Rogers either. Turner, the general manager of the Rogers plant, was almost immediately contacted by business and community leaders from across northwest Arkansas.

Turner said the gestures meant more than what was offered, although the promises to help with jobs and training were deeply meaningful. Turner said the community outreach to Superior’s workforce changed the mood overnight.

“It has been totally uplifting,” Turner said. “Everybody was worried and sad when it happened. But now, everybody has got some momentum that it is not only going to be OK, it’s going to be better.

“Everybody went from under a cloud to over the cloud.”

Cameron Smith has made quite a handsome living finding executive jobs for Wal-Mart vendors. He offered his staff’s services for an intensive training workshop called Street Smarts to help Superior’s displaced workers prepare to find new jobs after the ax fell.

When Smith has held Street Smarts workshops previously, attendance was almost always full. For Superior workers, Smith offered his workshop free.

“There’s going to be a lot of people to step up,” Smith said. “It’s a lot of people laid off at the same time. These people need help now. However they want to do it, we’ll do it.”

The trickiest part was arranging the schedule around the different shifts of the workers, whom Turner knew would want to participate. On Aug. 18, Smith announced that there would be three three-hour workshops held on three consecutive days beginning Tuesday with different start times to accommodate everyone.

The workshop will show workers, from the executive level down, how to research job opportunities, how to write resumes and cover letters that sell specific skills and how to handle job interviews.

“It’s truly a gift these people are going to get,” Turner said. “I’m going to take advantage of it too.”



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