TAKE A LOOK AT THIS: WMBD gets behind the scenes access to Pontiac facility

PONTIAC, Ill. (WMBD) — In need of a job? Caterpillar is looking for new talent right here in central Illinois at its Pontiac facility.

On a typical day, about1,100 employees work at the plant between all three shifts, including overnights. Caterpillar’s 1 million square foot facility in Pontiac is where employees work on fuel engine systems– such as fuel pumps and fuel injectors– as well as clean emissions modules.

All the parts manufactured in Pontiac are then used on CAT equipment including bulldozers, trucks and excavators.

The company hoped to hire 50 new employees on the spot Tuesday afternoon as part of its Talent Tuesday job fair.

“We’re looking for CNC machinists, machinist trainees, assemblers, heat treat operators, and welders,” said Caterpillar HR manager, Kevin Kramer.

CAT hired 350 new employees within the last year at its Pontiac plant alone. Kramer said they’re not noticing being short staffed on skilled labor.

“Really through advertising of our openings and these hiring events, we’ve been very successful in finding the skills and people that we need,” Kramer said.

Those hiring events include ‘Talent Tuesdays’ which have been taking place the first Tuesday of every month since the end of 2021.

“Nearly every step of the hiring process is completed within one day and many folks leave with a job offer,” Kramer said.

No prior experience is needed to attend the event(s) or work for Caterpillar; all anyone has to be is at least 18 years of age.

“I need work hours for school so I can come to Caterpillar and see a production line,” said Blake Uphoff, a senior engineering student at Illinois State University.

Uphoff works in Pontiac as a machinist and said unlike in school which is mainly textbooks and theories, he is getting real, hands-on experience at Caterpillar to help further advance his career.

He was hired as part of May’s ‘Talent Tuesday’ and now plays a role in producing fuel pumps, injectors and clean emission modules.

“They assign me to a machine, so I’ve been putting in different tolerances and making parts to specification,” Uphoff said.

Kramer said employees are trained while working and safety is always the company’s number one priority for old or new hires.

“Everyday, all the time, it’s probably one of the safest jobs I’ve worked to be honest,” said Olivia Holowinski, a welder at the Caterpillar Pontiac facility.

Holowinski said she’s also been on the job for about a month and said so far she’s taking what she learned at Heartland Community College and using it in real life.

Products both Uphoff and Holowinski play a role in producing are used locally on machines in Central Illinois as well as worldwide.

“Coming here, I learned so much about Cat being implemented in so many different places, like the Marines. It makes me feel a part of something bigger,” Holowinski said.

Machinists can make $20-24 an hour starting out, and welders after a few weeks of training can make up to $26 an hour. All positions are full-time and include benefits as well.