ALBANY — A little less than a week away from Georgia-Pacific’s first major push to hire the majority of the 140 employees who will operate its under-construction Albany plant, officials with the company held a “get acquainted” meeting at the Merry Acres Event Center Thursday night to update the public on progress at the $150 million plant.

“We really wanted to have a meeting to let folks in the community know who we were and to let them know we’re here to stay,” Plant Manager Johnnie Temples said. “We’re pretty excited to be here and to have the kind of support we’ve had from the people of Albany.”

Many of Albany and Dougherty County’s governmental and business leaders — including Dougherty County Administrator Mike McCoy, Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard and County Commissioner Anthony Jones — were in the crowd of more than 75 that came to hear Temples, Georgia-Pacific Albany HR Manager Ginger Jones and two local employees who are among the 40 already hired for the Albany facility speak about Georgia-Pacific’s future in the region.

The company will host a job fair June 22 at the Merry Acres facility from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., looking to hire “as many as we can” for the 100 positions still open at the plant. Persons interested in the positions may sign up for the job fair in advance by logging on to www.GP.com/careers.

“We’d love it if (applicants) had experience in the lumber industry, but we’re really looking for employees who will fit in with our team,” Jones said. “From what we’ve seen so far, we’re confident that we’ll be able to meet our work force needs in this area.”

Temples screened for attendees at Thursday’s gathering a video that shows what a tree goes through on its way to becoming 2-by-4s, 2-by-6s and 2-by-8s in lumber plants like the one that will operate in Albany.

“Ever wonder what $150 million will get you?” he said after the 11-minute video ended. “That’s it. It’s a highly automated plant, so we need a skilled work force.”

The plant manager then offered insight into the company’s business model.

“Georgia-Pacific — and all Koch Industry businesses — utilize market-based management,” Temples said. “That places focus on the long-term, rewards employees based on performance and contributions, focuses on individual careers, and employees are guided by general principles rather than detailed rules.”

He said the company’s guiding principles include integrity, stewardship and compliance, principled entrepreneurship, transformation, knowledge, humility, respect and self-actualization..

Dale Jordan of Albany and Michael Briley of Lee County are among the 40 who have already been hired to work at the G-P Albany plant. Both lauded the work environment with the company at Thursday’s gathering.

“They care,” Jordan said of the company. “The people who are part of our management team took an interest in me personally from the moment I walked onto the job.”

Added Briley, “I’ve experienced what a negative impact all the industries around here leaving have had on our community. I’m proud to be a part of a company that’s changing that. I feel like I have an opportunity to leave a legacy for my boys.”

Jones said 37 percent of the initial 40 hires are from the Albany area.

Temples noted that construction of the Albany plant, which is being done by Canadian builder BID Group, is still “six to seven months from completion.”

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