TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Mars Chocolate put out the "Help Wanted" sign today and about 1600 job hunters responded with high hopes.
The chocolate plant is scheduled for completion in 2013, but it's already looking for locals to join its team.
Mars held five informational sessions at the Capital Plaza Hotel & Convention Center on 1717 SW Topeka Boulevard Tuesday and team members manned several booths to answer attendees' questions.
" I lost my job from Jostens, a year ago," Ione Childers, who attended with several former colleagues from Jostens, said. "I've been there 38 years and now I'm still looking for a job."
Like Childers, many in attendance had recently lost jobs at Jostens.
"They're shutting down the company and there's gonna be 400 more people out of work," Gede Frost said. He also lost his job there a year ago, after 28 years on the job. "I came out here today to step up my search for work. All the people, they're gonna be looking."
Mars Chocolate, a privately held $30 billion global company, will be employing about 200 people full-time at its Topeka facility in the Kanza Fire Commerce Park when it's in operation.
"For Mars, we're looking for somebody that is driven, somebody who wants to win every day and somebody that wants to develop with the company," Bret Spangler, the new site director for the Topeka plant, said.
Spangler cited his own experience as an example of the company's
The company is hiring 32 maintenance technicians this year and looking to hire operational team members in 2013. Spangler said the Mars values mesh well with the local community's.
"It's a family-oriented company," he said.
The company operates on five principles: quality, responsibility, mutuality, efficiency and freedom, Spangler told attendees.
But more than the culture, or the benefits package, as sweet as they are, job seekers are just glad to have the to chance to apply.
"I think this is a perfect place to come for work," Childers said.
Frost said he felt, "very hopeful," despite the large turnout for the technical jobs offered in the first phase.
"I've been out of work for pretty much a year now, so I'm hoping I can land something soon. And this is a good opportunity, I think."
Applicants are asked to apply online at www.marstopeka.com.