Supply jobs – Q Porkchains Fri, 13 May 2022 03:05:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Supply jobs – Q Porkchains 32 32 US Xpress cuts about 70 jobs in Chattanooga Thu, 12 May 2022 23:38:12 +0000

After announcing a loss of more than $8.9 million in the first quarter last week, US Xpress Enterprises on Thursday confirmed that it has laid off about 70 of its corporate and information technology staff this week in response to a lower than expected growth in the company’s trucking business.

The staff cuts do not include any drivers, mechanics or maintenance workers and affected about 5% of the staff at the headquarters in Chattanooga and other US Xpress offices, according to a company official. The job cuts at US Xpress are the largest since the company laid off about 100 employees five years ago.

“Over the past few months, our truck count and revenue have not grown at the same rate as our workforce,” Brad Carmony, vice president of communications at US Xpress, said in a statement Thursday. “Unfortunately, this means that we have made the decision to lay off some team members this week. Many of these staff reductions relate to our technology team, and the others relate to the entire company, across operations. and back-office support.”

The job cuts come as the trucking industry struggles to cope with global supply chain challenges compounded by the pandemic and lockdowns in China, Russia’s war with Ukraine and shortages labor and supply in different industries.

“We don’t expect such a favorable market over the next few quarters as we saw a slowdown in freight demand coming out of the first quarter,” US Xpress CEO Eric Fuller told analysts at the sector last week. “Consumers are feeling the pressure, whether from general cost inflation, higher interest rates or worries about the geopolitical environment.”

Staff Photo / A truck demonstrates practice at the US Xpress Tunnel Hill plant on February 19, 2019 in Tunnel Hill, Georgia.

Fuller said shutdowns in China and port congestion in Shanghai are limiting global cargo, though he hopes that will rebound once China reopens.

The most recent layoffs come five months after Fuller changed management of the company’s Variant subsidiary in December after the tech-based transportation business failed to meet expectations. The US Xpress CEO said last week that he spent much of the first quarter working at Variant’s Atlanta offices to improve Variant’s performance and try to grow the business.

“Variant is the growth engine of our business and is key to our future growth,” Fuller said.

As Variant grew to 1,691 trucks at the end of the first quarter, Fuller said, “We haven’t grown as much as we would have liked.”

From its Atlanta headquarters, the company has developed a suite of machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms called Variant Optimizer, which is designed to reduce operating costs and increase driver satisfaction through “specialists operations” rather than fleet managers.

Even in a slowing freight market, US Xpress and other carriers are still eager to hire more drivers, and Variant is seen as a competitive advantage for US Xpress in hiring motor carriers.

“No driver, service center or maintenance roles were impacted [by the layoffs]”, Carmony said in Thursday’s statement. “While difficult, this decision reflects our need to properly size our workforce for the growth in our truck count and is necessary for the long-term health and success of the business. .”

The job losses announced this week will not be apparent in the sprawling parking lots around the US Xpress headquarters along Interstate 75 at the Bonny Oaks exit in Ooltewah. Following the success of working from home during the pandemic, most US Xpress employees are now working remotely and no longer commute to corporate headquarters daily.

Contact Dave Flessner at or 423-757-6340. Follow him on Twitter @dflessner1.

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2022 Hurricane Season Forecast: ‘Above Average’ Activity | News, Sports, Jobs Thu, 12 May 2022 10:17:14 +0000

For the seventh year in a row, top forecasters predict an above-average Atlantic hurricane season that officially begins June 1.

Reports from AccuWeather and the team at Colorado State University show that this year the trend of named storms arriving more often than usual will continue, and talk of postponing the official date of the hurricanes continue.

AccuWeather’s Global Weather Center and its team of tropical weather experts, led by veteran meteorologist Dan Kottlowski, predict a more active season that could bring 16 to 20 named storms, six to eight of which could become hurricanes. They also predict that of these hurricanes, three to five could become major hurricanes (Category 3 or greater, maximum sustained winds of 111 mph+). In 2021, there were 21 named storms, seven hurricanes, and four major hurricanes. Of the 21 storms named last year, eight had a direct impact on the United States. The 30-year average of named storms is 14 per year.

To make such a long-term prediction, Kottlowski’s team studied various weather patterns, past hurricane seasons and climate models to help shape the outlook for 2022.

The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is often used to paint a picture of the season ahead – whether the waters of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean are warmer or cooler, generally referred to as El Niño (more warm) or La Niña (colder) .

Current forecasts show that the existing La Niña pattern will transition to a neutral ENSO phase in late spring or early summer, meaning water temperatures in this area of ​​the Pacific will be closer to average. .

Yes, Pacific waters play a major role in Atlantic hurricane season. Experts say that during La Niña patterns, wind shear becomes less prevalent in the atmosphere over the Atlantic.

As of March 30, Kottlowski, who has worked at AccuWeather for more than four decades, said a weak La Niña was in place and was expected to persist through the start of the tropical season. He said if La Niña is here to stay, or even gets stronger, there is a possibility of more than 20 named storms this season.

Kottlowski noted that in addition to the presence of La Niña, above-normal sea surface temperatures in key tropical development regions will lead to an above-normal probability of pre-season development for the eighth consecutive year. . He said temperatures were already above normal in many areas that meteorologists are watching closely for tropical systems in late March.

“Sea surface temperatures are above normal over much of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean and even off the eastern seaboard of the United States, particularly on the southeast coast of the United States. , and these are critical areas for early season development,” Kottlowski said in a statement. This includes much of the central Atlantic, the part of the oceans that forecasters call the main development region, he added.

AccuWeather officials said sea surface temperatures near Key West were around 76 to 78 degrees as of March 28, about 1.6 to 3.8 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.

Officials said the waters are currently cooler in the eastern Atlantic and towards the African coast, but meteorologists expect the waters to be warm enough in this part of the basin at the height of the season, from mid at the end of August.

The northwestern part of Africa is also helping to shape the season ahead. Forecasters predict that strong winds will produce frequent tropical waves on the road this season. These tropical waves move through the Sahara Desert in North Africa and out into the open Atlantic where they can best organize into tropical depressions or tropical storms.

Kottlowski has previously said that about 85% of all tropical storm developments can be linked to tropical waves, which are areas of low pressure in the atmosphere that are generally located north to south and move west from Africa to the Atlantic.

With the official start of the season still a month away, Kottlowski urges people to begin hurricane preparations now, especially given global supply chain issues as well as the increased possibility of an early storm. .

“Don’t wait for June to prepare” he said. “We’ve had pre-season development over the past seven years and you definitely need to prepare now. Now is the time to put your hurricane plan in place.

The CSU Tropical Weather Project team forecasts 19 named storms during the Atlantic hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30. Of these, researchers expect nine to become hurricanes and four to reach major hurricane strength.

So far, the 2022 hurricane season has similar patterns to those of 1996, 2000, 2001, 2008, 2012 and 2021, CSU officials said. “Our analog seasons have generally shown near to somewhat above normal Atlantic hurricane activity,” said Phil Klotzbach, a researcher in CSU’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences and lead author of the report.

The team projects that hurricane activity in 2022 will be about 130% of the average season from 1991 to 2020. In comparison, 2021 hurricane activity was about 120% of the average season. The 2021 hurricane season saw eight continental US storms and two continental US hurricanes, including Category 4 Hurricane Ida which hit the central Gulf Coast and then brought devastating flooding to the mid-Atlantic and north -eastern United States.

The CSU team will release forecast updates on June 2, July 7, and August 4. As always, researchers are warning coastal residents to take appropriate precautions.

“It only takes one storm near you to make it an active season,” Bell said.

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Stocks tumble after mixed April inflation report | News, Sports, Jobs Wed, 11 May 2022 16:55:18 +0000

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks mostly stumble on Wall Street today after inflation slowed last month, but are still worse than expected.

The S&P 500 was up 0.4% after swinging between gains and losses in early trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 315 points, or 1%, at 32,480 as of 11:49 a.m. EST, and the Nasdaq composite was down 0.5% as tech stocks were again behind the market.

Wall Street has been transfixed by the country’s high inflation and its direction as it forces the Federal Reserve to withdraw the supports it has propped up under the markets for most of the pandemic. The Fed turned decisively to higher interest rates after seeing high inflation last longer than expected.

Today’s report from the US Department of Labor showed inflation slowed slightly in April, falling to 8.3% from 8.5% in March. Investors also found signals in the data that inflation could peak and continue to subside.

Nevertheless, the numbers were still higher than expected by economists. They also showed a bigger-than-expected rise in prices outside of food and gasoline, what economists call “underlying inflation” and which may be more predictive of future trends.

“Underlying inflation has come in strong, and that’s what really matters for the Fed at this point,” said Brian Jacobsen, senior investment strategist at Allspring Global Investments.

Economists said the inflation report will keep the Fed on track for quick and potentially steep interest rate hikes in the coming months, although the data has led to erratic trading on Wall Street.

Treasury yields initially jumped, but pared their gains as the morning progressed. As yields fell, most stocks reversed their early losses.

The 10-year Treasury yield climbed as high as 3.08%, but fell back to 2.96% in subsequent trades, below its 2.99% level on Tuesday evening. The two-year yield, which moves more on Fed action expectations, rose to 2.67% from 2.62% late Tuesday. It had spiked to 2.75% shortly after the report was released.

To contain high inflation, the Fed has already pulled its main short-term interest rate from its all-time high near zero, where it has spent most of the pandemic. He also said he may continue to raise rates to double the usual amount at future meetings. Such moves by design would slow the economy, hoping to stifle inflation.

The Fed risks causing a recession if it raises rates too high or too quickly. Even if it’s shrewd enough to avoid a downturn, higher rates drive down the prices of stocks and all kinds of investments in the meantime. Indeed, safer, higher-yielding Treasuries suddenly become a stronger competitor for investors’ dollars.

The higher rates are hurting the investments that have been the biggest winners from the pandemic’s ultra-low rates the most. This includes big tech companies, other high growth stocks, and even cryptocurrencies. The Nasdaq’s loss of about 25% so far this year is much worse than the S&P 500’s nearly 16% drop, for example.

Coinbase, a crypto-trading platform, fell 23.5% after reporting much weaker last quarter results than analysts expected. Crypto price declines weighed on trading volumes throughout the quarter.

Several other companies have made great strides after the publication of their latest results. Burger chain Wendy’s fell 9.4% after reporting disappointing earnings. Callaway Golf jumped 14% and H&R Block 17.4% after reporting encouraging financial results.

It’s not just interest rates that are pushing markets down. In China, shutdowns to stem COVID increase the risk of further supply chain disruptions for global businesses and a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.

The war in Ukraine, meanwhile, threatens to keep inflation high due to disruptions in the oil and natural gas markets.

Crude surged again today, with a barrel of benchmark US oil up 5.4% at $105.11. Brent crude, the international standard, added 4.7% to $107.31.

That helped S&P 500 energy stocks jump 3.8%, by far the biggest gain among the 11 sectors that make up the index. Exxon Mobil rose 4% and ConocoPhillips jumped 3.7%.

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Parents in search of formula milk as shortage spreads in the United States | News, Sports, Jobs Tue, 10 May 2022 20:47:12 +0000

A sign is displayed at a CVS pharmacy indicating a shortage of baby food availability today in Charlotte, North Carolina. Across much of the United States, parents are scrambling to find formula after a combination of supply disruptions and safety recalls swept away many big brands. store shelves. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Across the United States, parents are scrambling to find formula milk because supply disruptions and a massive safety recall have swept many big brands from store shelves.

Months of one-off shortages at pharmacies and supermarkets have been exacerbated by the recall at Abbott, which was forced to close its largest U.S. formula manufacturing plant in February due to contamination concerns.

On Monday, White House press secretary Jenn Psaki said the Food and Drug Administration was “work around the clock to deal with possible shortages” and will seek to expedite imports of foreign infant formula to increase supply.

For now, pediatricians and healthcare workers are urging parents who can’t find formula to contact food banks or doctors’ offices. They caution against diluting the formula to stretch supplies or using DIY recipes online.

“For babies who aren’t breastfed, it’s the only thing they eat,” said Dr Steven Abrams, of the University of Texas, Austin. “So it has to have all their nutrition, and furthermore, it has to be properly prepared so that it’s safe for the smallest infants.”

Laura Stewart, a 52-year-old mother of three who lives just north of Springfield, Mo., has struggled for weeks to find formula for her 10-month-old daughter, Riley.

Riley normally gets a brand of Similac from Abbott designed for children with sensitive stomachs. Last month, she instead used four different brands.

“She spits more. She’s just grumpier. She is generally a very happy girl. said Hugh. “When she has the right formula, she does not spit. She is perfectly fine.

A small box costs $17 to $18 and lasts three to five days, Stewart said.

Like many Americans, Hughes relies on the WIC — a federal program similar to food stamps that serves mothers and children — to provide her daughter with formula. Abbott’s recall wiped out many WIC-covered brands, although the program now allows substitutions.

Trying to keep the formula in stock, retailers including CVS and Walgreens began limiting purchases to three containers per customer.

Nationwide, about 40% of big-box stores are out of stock, up from 31% in mid-April, according to Datasembly, a data analytics firm. More than half of US states are experiencing stock-out rates between 40% and 50%, according to the company, which collects data from 11,000 locations.

Infant formula is particularly vulnerable to disruption, as only a handful of companies account for nearly all of the US supply.

Industry executives say the constraints began last year when the COVID-19 pandemic led to disruptions in ingredients, labor and transportation. Supplies have been further reduced by parents who have stocked up during the closures.

Then, in February, Abbott recalled several major brands and closed its Sturgis, Michigan plant when federal officials concluded that four babies suffered from bacterial infections after consuming the facility’s formula. Two of the infants died.

When FDA inspectors visited the plant in March, they found lax safety protocols and traces of bacteria on several surfaces. However, none of the bacterial strains matched those collected from infants, and the FDA did not provide an explanation of how the contamination occurred.

For his part, Abbott clarifies his formula “is probably not the source of the infection”, although the FDA says its investigation is ongoing.

Shortages are especially dangerous for infants who need special formulas due to food allergies, digestive problems and other conditions.

“Unfortunately, many of these very specialized formulas are only made in the United States at the recalling plant, and this has caused a huge problem for a relatively small number of infants,” he said. added. Abrams said.

After hearing concerns from parents, the FDA said last month that Abbott may begin releasing certain specialty formulas unaffected by recalls. “case by case.” The company provides them free of charge, in coordination with doctors and hospitals.

Food safety advocates say the FDA made the right choice in releasing the formula, but parents should talk to their pediatricians before using it.

“There is still some risk with the formula because we know there are issues at the plant and the FDA has not identified a root cause,” said Sarah Sorscher of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “But it’s worth releasing because those infants might die without it.”

It’s unclear when the Abbott plant could reopen.

An FDA spokeswoman said the company is still working “to rectify findings related to processes, procedures and conditions.” The agency is also working with other manufacturers to consider options for increasing production.

Industry professionals say it will be difficult to increase supply quickly, as the FDA requires extensive testing, labeling and inspections.

“It’s a long and rigorous process to bring new manufacturers to this country,” said Ron Belldegrun, co-founder of ByHeart, a New York-based specialty formula maker that recently launched its first product after four years in development.


Hollingsworth reported from Kansas City, Missouri.


Follow Matthew Perrone on Twitter: @AP_FDAwriter


The Associated Press Health and Science Department is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Yet another government mess | News, Sports, Jobs Tue, 10 May 2022 10:47:10 +0000

It’s been more than two years since federal authorities began requesting made-in-the-USA personal protective equipment to help us fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Small businesses across the country have pivoted to answer the call…or tried, anyway. But the struggles they have faced since then are a perfect example of two things that are very wrong with our economy: we are drowning in bureaucracy; and we don’t learn lessons.

Here is an assessment of the experience of a company that has attempted to manufacture face shields and N95 masks in Missouri:

“So far it has been a net drain of funds, resources and energy,” said Halcyon Shades owner Jim Schmersahl.

Although their efforts were fueled by a sense of duty to their country, patriotism alone does not sustain a business. Many of those who received state or federal money to do so have been forced to close or scale back their operations. According to interviews with many of these manufacturers, the reasons were logistical hurdles, regulatory rejections, declining demand and fierce competition from foreign suppliers.

Ohio awarded $20.8 million to 73 companies to manufacture pandemic-related supplies, state data shows. Of 60 companies that complied with a recent reporting deadline, more than a third were no longer producing PPE by the end of 2021.

The government asked American companies to adapt, these companies did, and then almost immediately they forgot about the supply problems that drove their demand in the first place and bought from foreign manufacturers anyway.

What a waste – and one created by bureaucracy and illogical purchasing practices. If we don’t learn the lesson now, we will be in an even worse position to deal with the next crisis.

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SEMCORP will create 1,200 new jobs in Ohio Mon, 09 May 2022 13:57:45 +0000

SEMCORP will create 1,200 new jobs in Ohio

SEMCORP Advanced Materials Group will invest $916 million to build a lithium-ion battery component manufacturing facility in Sidney, OH.

In what will be the largest foreign direct investment in Ohio, SEMCORP Advanced Materials Group will invest $916 million to establish an 850,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Sidney, OH. The project will create nearly 1,200 jobs with an annual payroll of $73 million. The facility will manufacture separator film, a key component of electric vehicle (EV) batteries. SEMCORP’s products will be used by major manufacturers of electric vehicle batteries in North America.

“The Sydney facility is one of the most significant investments in our company’s history, as we know the United States is heavily committed to building the supply chains for electric vehicles and storing energy here at home,” said Paul Lee, co-founder, president and CEO of SEMCORP. . “Our Sydney site will be the largest US manufacturer of electric vehicle battery separator films. We look forward to working hand-in-hand with state and local leaders to make large-scale domestic production of this component a reality.

(Image: SEMCORP/YouTube)

“SEMCORP chose the Sidney location because of the state’s impressive commitment to vocational education, readiness for a large-scale project like ours, strong work ethic in the area, and proximity to key customers,” explained James Shih, SEMCORP Group Vice President of Global Projects. “We are delighted to call Sidney home, and we will do everything we can to earn the trust of the local community.”

No batteries will be manufactured by SEMCORP and no lithium is used in the release film manufacturing process. There will be no lithium mining at the site as there are no lithium deposits in or near Ohio. In addition to electric vehicles, lithium-ion batteries safely power a wide range of consumer products such as cell phones and computers. SEMCORP is committed to operating the facility in compliance with all relevant environmental and safety standards, according to Shih.

SEMCORP is currently the largest producer of lithium-ion battery release films in the world with five billion square meters of annual core film production capacity at six manufacturing facilities. The company plans to add an additional eight billion square meters of capacity over the next four years, including the Sidney site, primarily to serve the growing electric vehicle market.

“SEMCORP’s advanced battery separator film will help propel Ohio to the forefront of the electric vehicle industry,” said JP Nauseef, JobOhio President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our team of professionals, including the Dayton Development Coalition, Sidney-Shelby Economic Partnership, City of Sidney and Shelby County, have worked tirelessly to demonstrate why Ohio is the best place for this investment.”

The facility will be located in the Sidney Ohio Industrial Park at Millcreek and Kuther Road, a site authenticated by JobsOhio’s SiteOhio program in 2021. The site has been flagged for major industrial development since 2016. Authenticated site status ensures that the site is free from any prejudice. that can slow or stop development.

“We are delighted to welcome SEMCORP to the Dayton area. Their decision to manufacture in Sidney advances Ohio’s efforts to develop a robust ecosystem for electric vehicles,” said Jeff Hoagland, President and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition. “The rapidly growing market for electric automobiles and aircraft represents an incredible opportunity for the Dayton area to stay competitive in the changing manufacturing economy and provide opportunities for our skilled manufacturing workforce.”

Discover all the latest news related to economic development, business relocation, business expansion and site selection in the aviation and aerospace industry.
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Applied Materials expansion brings 200 jobs to Evergreen Sun, 08 May 2022 11:15:51 +0000

After purchasing the former Shopko building in Evergreen that sat vacant for four years, Applied Materials will begin full production of semiconductor plating fabrication in the 100,000 square foot building next month to meet demand from the industry. growing industry.

As Applied Materials’ third location in the Flathead Valley, the new facility will create 200 new jobs in the region. Positions range from fabricators to engineers to managers and the company already employs 600 people in the Flathead Valley alone. The expansion will bring the total square footage to 350,000 between three buildings.

The semiconductor veneer manufacturer has experienced significant growth over the past two years, adding thousands of employees to all branches, including facilities in Austin, Texas and Singapore.

“The demand has never been greater (for microchips),” Dennis McHaffie, vice president of business operations for Applied Materials, said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Evergreen on May 4. “We can’t ship them fast enough – we’re having all the right problems.

The Applied Materials expansion will bring hundreds of additional jobs to the Valley and company officials have already been busy recruiting employees for their other sites.

Montana site general manager Brian Aegerter said there are currently 50 job openings for Kalispell’s two established campuses, and recruiting teams will introduce 200 more for the new Evergreen site. over the next year and a half.

Aegerter says the company holds weekly job fairs and recruiting efforts have progressed in recent weeks.

Most job postings are for manufacturing positions, Aegerter said, which include benefits and range from $17 an hour to nearly $30 an hour, depending on experience.

As the Valley continues to struggle to recruit and retain employees, Kalispell Mayor Mark Johnson spoke at the ceremony and reassured the audience that local government agencies are doing what they can. to bring more housing to the area for potential employees, which remains a recruitment challenge.

“As we grow as a community, we have a lot of challenges,” Johnson said. “We need to hire 200 new people for this building and that is the next challenge. We do what we can to provide accommodation.

In addition to staffing shortages, Applied Materials also continues to struggle with supply chain constraints as shutdowns in China and war in Ukraine disrupt production.

“The supply chain issues are actually getting worse,” Aegerter said. “Supply chain interdependence has become a problem. When one area has a problem, the ripple effect is amplified.

This business was started after two entrepreneurs lost their jobs – it secured R650,000 in funding Sun, 08 May 2022 06:51:51 +0000

GUDGU cordials (provided)

  • Pieter du Plessis and Viljoen de Kock own GUDGU, a local company that makes sugar-free and alcohol-free syrups.
  • The couple started the company in 2013 after losing their jobs in the legal and communications sectors.
  • After entering the 2021 ENGEN Pitch & Polish competition, the company emerged victorious and walked away with R650,000, plus a scholarship worth R350,000 to take part in a two-year business development programme.
  • The sugar-free cordials can be used to make cocktails, mocktails, and cold drinks, and are said to be vegan and gluten-free.
  • For more stories, go to

Pieter du Plessis and Viljoen de Kock started GUDGUa local company that makes sugar-free and alcohol-free cordials, after losing their jobs in 2013, and today the company won a cash prize of R650,000 after pitching to investors.

“The inspiration started when we both lost our jobs [in 2013]said DuPlessis. “We had to do something to keep the cats away from the stove, so we started making sugar-free and sugar-free syrups like lemonade,” he told Business Insider South Africa.

A cordial is a non-alcoholic syrup, tonic or concentrate that can be diluted to make a cold drink, flavored water and more.

Some of the ingredients used to make GUDGU include water, a mixture of xylitol and steviol extracts, fruit extract, citric acid, and sodium benzoate. They also use a secret blend called SugO, which promises zero aftertaste.

The intended purpose of cordials is to make cocktails, mocktails, flavored water, or cold drinks, and according to the founders, the benefits are that they’re vegan, diabetic-friendly, gluten-free, and low-carb .

After Du Plessis lost his job in corporate communications and De Kock lost his as a lawyer in 2013, the two came together to make cordials, and today they supply large and small companies across the country, markets and major retailers such as Spar.

“We both love food and developing new tastes, but we don’t have any formal training in food technology or anything. Fortunately, we have professionals to help us in the long run,” Du Plessis said.

With trail and error, the pair tried different recipes to create the cordials, and after various attempts, they found the combination that gives that “wow, in the mouth” factor, Du Plessis said.

They tried every trick in the book to market their product, but it wasn’t until they came up with a name for their product that they really started seeing customers take notice of their offering.

“GUDGU in Afrikaans means ‘Goedheid Uit Die Grond Uit’, which means the goodness of the earth. As soon as you give it an identity, it becomes something, the name means something.

Pieter Du Plessis and De Kock (Supplied)

Viljoen de Kock (middle left) and Pieter Du Plessis (middle right) (Supplied)

“We only use the right ingredients and none of the wrong ones, and we make sure we offer the highest quality products,” Du Plessis said.

Business during the Covid-19 pandemic

Although the pandemic and the harsh lockdown have brought many businesses to their knees, Du Plessis and De Kock said their businesses have been lucky to thrive during this time.

“In fact, we have flourished and exploded during the lockdown. Because we are a sugar-free product, we asked to continue our activities and offer sugar-free drinks to diabetics and people in need and we obtained the permit .

“What we also did was develop our 50ml mini cordials…and that was something people could buy and play with. It really promoted our product. People also started to buy the bulk,” De Kock said.

After making progress in supplying Spar, Superspar and other large and small businesses, including pharmacies, the duo aim to work with other big retailers such as Massmart and Checkers.

Seize opportunities

With the aim of broadening their horizons, Du Plessis and De Kock entered the 2021 ENGEN Pitch & Polish Competition and emerged victorious.

It came after the couple enrolled in an online business course in 2020 when the lockdown began. The instructor helped these business partners stay focused on growth during the ongoing lockdown levels. She felt they were ready for the ENGEN Pitch & Polish competition and encouraged them to participate.

They walked away with a cash prize of R650,000 and a scholarship worth R350,000 to participate in a two-year business development and growth program of Raizcorp – a South African business incubator.

“We came in five days before the closing date and we were successful. We hadn’t done anything like this before and it was completely out of our comfort zone,” Du Plessis said. They were grateful to have found a Raizcorp guide who was friendly and understanding.

“He could guide us in the right direction. It was a great experience working with him. He was knowledgeable and on top of the trends,” said De Kock, adding, “The fact that we can ask questions and know that the answer was correct was invaluable.”

To business owners who feel like things aren’t moving as fast as they hope, Du Plessis urges them to keep working hard because no one is going to do it for them.

He also encourages emerging business owners to make sure they educate themselves on their business numbers, as this also helps them know where they are and can help them scale their business.

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Task Force Tackles Housing Shortage Threatening Local Employers | News, Sports, Jobs Sat, 07 May 2022 05:34:00 +0000 News photo by Julie Riddle Environmental engineer Mallory Miller, who recently moved to work at Lafarge Alpena, appears at the factory recently. Miller feared that she could not accept Alpena’s job because she could not find accommodation.

ALPENA — When environmental engineer Mallory Miller took a job with Lafarge Alpena, she had no idea it would take her six months to buy a house.

Transferred from a Lafarge sister plant in Nashville last summer, Miller wasn’t sure she’d be able to take the Alpena job when multiple in-person and online searches turned up no homes. viable to buy and only one rental option that met his needs. .

Like many other parts of the country, Alpena faces a housing shortage as existing homes fill up and high costs limit new construction.

A lack of signs for sale is causing problems, employers say.

A recently formed task force on the region’s housing problems may bring relief, but such solutions may be a long time in coming.

News Photo by Julie Riddle A Help Wanted sign appeared on the doorstep of a business in Rogers City last week.

In the meantime, some potential workers may be forced to turn down jobs at Alpena because they don’t have a place to live, Miller said.

“It’s sad,” she said. “Because there are great opportunities here.”


Jeff Scott, plant manager at Lafarge Alpena, recently obtained approval to post 20 new jobs at Lafarge, some of which would attract outside talent.

He fears he won’t be able to fill all the positions if people can’t find housing, Scott said.

With nowhere else to put them, the company may have to rent hotel rooms to house several interns who are expected to work at the Alpena plant this summer, he said.

Scott is right to worry. Employers in Alpena and northern Michigan are reporting candidates are pulling out after unsuccessful house hunts.

Missing out on this talent harms both the employer and the community who would have benefited from the new ideas the newcomers would bring and the dollars they would spend locally.

Miller recently found and secured a for sale by owner home listed on an online sales site.

If she had stayed in Nashville, where the prices are exorbitant, Miller said, she would never have been able to afford to buy a house.

Northeast Michigan’s relative affordability attracts people who have recently realized they can work remotely. With their move north, the stock of available homes has shrunk, shrinking further as more people buy homes to use as short-term vacation rentals.


The new construction does not fill the lack of available housing, said Rachel Smolinski, city manager of Alpena.

Smolinski and Alpena County Administrator Mary Catherine Hannah are part of an Alpena housing task force addressing the housing shortage in northeast Michigan.

Employers are struggling to operate and school enrollment is plummeting because young families can’t find the homes they need, Hannah said.

“This is perhaps the most important and critical issue in our community,” Smolinski said.

Elsewhere and locally, the cost of new construction is the biggest barrier to adequate housing supply, Smolinski said.

Even before supply chain lockdowns drove up the prices of lumber and other building materials over the past two years, builders couldn’t build homes at a price low enough for the buyer average can consider them, she said.

Before being hired as city manager of Alpena in late 2019, Smolinski worked with a coalition on the west side of the state formed to address the housing crisis there.

Smolinski and the other group founders — including Hannah before she moved to Alpena County in 2021 — initially thought they could find a solution quickly, Hannah said.

Instead, she said, they learned that the complicated problem would take years or more to solve, with change and education needed on many levels.


The Alpena Housing Task Force, only a few months old, is focusing the combined efforts of people with their fingers in the housing pie to find a solution to the housing shortage on the sunrise side.

Even with the efforts of the task force, a balance between the houses and the people who want to live in them could take five years or more, Smolinski said.

At its monthly meetings, the task force compiled a curated but ever-moving spreadsheet of issues impacting housing, contributing factors to those issues, existing resources, and possible next steps.

Task Force members must bring together current data and connect the pieces of the housing puzzle, ensuring that bankers, contractors, builders and housing advocates each know the role of others in creating a better housing landscape, Hannah said.

Local governments can energize new construction through tax credits, creative financing options, new partnerships, changes to zoning rules, land reserves and other tools, and the community can lobby for policy changes that open the door to new housing developments, Hannah and Smolinski said.

These potential solution steps won’t happen right away, but they are on the horizon and, through the concerted efforts of the task force and others, employers may one day not have to worry about that “request for help” posts go unanswered because workers can’t find a home to buy.

Until then, inadequate worker housing impacts everyone, Hannah said.

“If we don’t have it, people will go elsewhere,” she said. “If you can’t find people to work in your restaurant, if you can’t find people to work in your hospital, if you can’t find people to work at the gas station or fix the plumbing in your house or fix your roof, then no one is going to live here.

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US jobs report for April shows bigger gains Fri, 06 May 2022 21:19:57 +0000
Credit…Tom Brenner for The New York Times

President Biden on Friday hailed the latest jobs report as evidence of his administration’s efforts to rebuild the economy, a message the White House is increasingly amplifying ahead of the congressional election.

In a statement, Mr Biden credited last year’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package, along with the distribution of coronavirus vaccines, with creating 428,000 jobs in April and the low rate unemployment of 3.6%. Mr Biden sought to highlight job creation and wage growth, even as Republicans said his stimulus package had contributed to a spike in property prices that fueled voter frustration.

“We are building an economy that values ​​the dignity of work,” Biden said in the statement. “There is no doubt that inflation and high prices are a challenge for families across the country, and fighting inflation is a top priority for me,” he said, adding that the economy ‘faces challenges from Covid-19, Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine’. , and global inflation in a position of strength. There is more work to do.

During a visit to Ohio on Friday, Biden said passing legislation that would inject $300 billion into scientific research and development and bolster domestic manufacturing would create create jobs and address supply chain shortages that have contributed to inflation.

“These manufacturing jobs are important because they fuel our economic growth,” Biden said. “They fuel exports and, as we have seen, they can fuel innovation.”

Mr Biden also said the bill would “address what everyone is concerned about: tackling inflation, bringing prices down”.

Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee, released a statement on the jobs report that highlighted soaring inflation. “Families can’t afford food and groceries, wages can’t keep up with inflation, and Biden’s agenda will only make things worse,” she said. “Voters are blaming Biden and Democrats squarely for the hurt they are causing struggling families across the country.”

But Mr Biden’s defenders said the report pointed to an environment in which workers could seek better career opportunities and higher wages. Representative Robert C. Scott of Virginia, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, said the data “reflects another exceptional month of job growth and economic recovery.”

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