Slaughter business hopes community college helps with skilled workers problem

Welders at Anvil Attachments work on crane equipment. (Source: WAFB)
Welders at Anvil Attachments work on crane equipment. (Source: WAFB)

SLAUGHTER, LA (WAFB) - A business in the town of Slaughter that ships products across the world could be in big trouble because of a shortage of workers, not material. However, a community college might have found the solution.

The men and women at Anvil Attachments are behind some of the biggest and strongest hydraulic equipment in the world. A team of welders, fabricators and machinists repair and build clam shell buckets and other connectors for cranes that transfer materials like coal, grain and even storm debris. While they are pretty productive, the company's president, said his business has run into a major hurdle.

The equipment is not an issue for Jon Craft. He has 14 well-oiled machines. He said the problem is he's had a hard time finding qualified skilled workers to do the labor.

"It's been an issue for a long time, but it's getting worse," Craft said.

The metal products on that were not all made at his location. Craft said those not made by his business are costing him hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

"I'm outsourcing a big portion in another state," Craft explained.

Finding a solution to the lack of skilled workers is where Johnny Arceneaux, the director of workforce development for East Feliciana Parish, comes in.

"People will drive a long ways to go to work, but they won't drive a long way to go to training," Arceneaux said.

Arceneaux, who also works with Baton Rouge Community College, is working with Craft and elected officials to open a machine school in the parish that would have skilled laborers trained and ready to work in six months. Mayor Robert Jackson said the town of Slaughter can't afford to lose business. He believes the program will not only help save industry but grow into something bigger.

"We've got to get to not only people in dead end jobs," he said. "We've got to get into the classroom, too. That's your feeder."

Craft estimates it will take two-and-a-half years to bring his crew to full staff. And if things go as well as economic leaders plan, he very well could be in the market for a few more machines to send to get his own stock ready for market.

The machinist school will open at the old Folks College, which is next to East Feliciana High School, on August 1.

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