Hundreds of people attended Williamson Inc.’s business expo despite the heat and a major crash on Interstate 65. / Photo MATT BLOIS
By MATT BLOIS
The Williamson Inc. business expo offered job seekers a chance to connect with employers looking for talent.
If they failed to find a job, the expo also offered ice cream, whiskey and beer so they could drown their sorrows. (The free beer was also a relief for those who sat in traffic caused by a major crash on Interstate 65.)
Williamson Inc. hosted the job fair and business expo at the Factory at Franklin on Thursday afternoon. This was the first year the chamber included the job fair as part of the event.
Job seekers were easy to spot. They wore suits, despite the sweltering heat, and carried leather covered folders for their resumes.
Sam Wasson—easily identified as a job seeker by his leather folder—said he was looking for a job in finance. He recently completed an MBA at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York.
He moved to Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood two weeks ago without a job offer because he felt like Nashville was a booming city with lots of jobs and opportunities for young people.
Wasson said he liked going to events like the business expo to get his name out there while looking for a company that was the right fit.
Mark Byers was looking for work as well. He has been in Williamson County for about a year, and most recently worked as a solutions engineer.
He said Williamson County is a good place to look for work, but he has struggled to find the right position. He was hoping for better luck at the expo.
“There’s a lot of jobs out, but there’s a lot of competition, a lot of people looking for jobs,” he said. “What I’m seeing is that companies are not jumping on candidates right away. You see jobs that are running for 30,45 or 60 days. They’re waiting for the right people.”
Mark Borders, an account manager with Buffalo Insurance Group, set up a booth at the expo to look for insurance agents.
In a tight labor market, he said the most important parts of his pitch to potential agents were competitive commissions and the flexibility to keep their clients if they leave the company.
“We’re broker friendly,” he said. “We want to make it easy and friendly for brokers to come and work with us. We have complete back office support for them. That’s our job.”
Another job seeker—also holding a leather folder—was listening as Borders explained his pitch.
“I’m eavesdropping,” he said, approaching Borders at the end of his explanation. “I’m actively seeking employment.”
— Matt Largen (@MattLargen) October 3, 2019
Mitsubishi Motors, which is in the midst of a major hiring push to staff its new North American headquarters in Franklin, also set up a booth at the expo.
A recruiter for the company said Mitsubishi has already many positions in Williamson County, and expects a big group of employees to start in October.
Recruiters didn’t know the exact number of employees the company has hired so far.
“That number will probably change by the end of the day,” one recruiter said.
Near several tables with free cookies, free pasta and free candy, Beth Palk, an assistant vice president with Wilson Bank and Trust, said she was looking to fill a number of positions as the bank expands in Williamson County.
“We are looking for people that are truly business related, people that know Williamson County, that really know about banking,” she said. “They’ll have a focus on helping us grow.”
Before the event, Williamson Inc. CEO Matt Largen said the big question was whether the road congestion around Franklin Thursday afternoon would deter people from coming.
To mark the start of the expo, Largen used a giant mallet to tap an old-timey wooden keg and started passing out large mugs of beer.
Despite the heat and hellish traffic, hundreds of people filled Liberty Hall at the Factory in Franklin, making connections and trading business cards. It turns out free beer and the chance for a new job are good motivators.