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March 18th, 2009
06:51 PM ET

A journey to a job

Jim Cheatley on his motorcycle.

Jim Cheatley on his motorcycle.
Inside the SRS plant.

Inside the SRS plant.

Paul Vercammen
CNN Senior Producer

Call it a journey to a job. Jim Cheatley rode his motorcycle from his San Clemente, Calif. home, through the north San Diego County countryside on the windy Ortega Highway, past the Eucalyptus trees, crossed into Riverside County and parked his bike at SRS Engineering.

The married father with a six-year-old son walked into the industrial park, resume in hand, and to apply for work with SRS Engineering.

“It was a great ride from San Clemente to here,” Cheatley smiled. “No problems on the road, beautiful.”

Cheatley dropped off his resume in a plant filled with smiles and optimism. Cheatley is a chemical and electrical engineer and therefore thinks SRS might be able to use his expertise because it manufactures parts for biodiesel plants throughout North America.

This is a company that went from about $500,000 in revenue a few years ago to an expected $20 million or more this year.

Sparks fly throughout the SRS plant as columns for biodiesel operations are built. The sounds of welding, soldering and wrench twisting echo in the industrial park.

Welder Robert Reed was just hired by SRS last week and is helping put together plant parts that are bound for Missouri and Texas. Reed had been unemployed since October.

“It feels good to be back I work,” Reed says. “It feels like you are supposed to. I like that it’s green. I feel like I am doing my part.”

SRS CEO Clay Hawranik explains that the parts may create more jobs once they hit the ground.

“They are going to need crane operators and other support personnel to put the (biodiesel) columns in place,” Hawranik says. “Then you have to have operators manning the plant 24-7. So that can be dozens of more jobs.”

When SRS builds, they pay their vendors, steel suppliers, valve makers, 20 electrical companies and more. And SRS is on the brink of signing some other large projects in North America and Hawranik says he needs to hire 20 to 30 more workers in the coming months.

Hawranik says the main reason his operation is growing so fast is that government incentives are encouraging more investors to get into the biofuel business.

That’s good news for the motorcycle riding engineer Jim Cheatley, who used to work with glass but now wants to get into biodiesel plant building.

He’s been contracted to a trial period next week, and employees from SRS predict he will most likely keep the job full-time. Perhaps Cheatley can figure out an easy way to run that motorcycle on biodiesel.


Filed under: Paul Vercammen • Road to Rescue
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. jurone

    they gave out bonus money to retain the executives and some of them still left the company after doing a terrible job that doee not happen on real jobs you do bad work you get wrote up and you do not get pay raise these people do not live by the same rules the little man an woman we keep struggling the light is getting deamer

    March 19, 2009 at 9:32 am |
  2. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    There are some economic sparks emerging during the troubled econopmy--let's hope that these economic sparks create an economic fire!

    March 19, 2009 at 8:30 am |
  3. Sharon

    Hi Anderson,
    You asked some good questions tonite relative to Chris Dodd and the AIG bonuses. It's about time someone at CNN was smart enough to actually put the truth on the air. All of this economic mess goes straight back to our Congress and the Clinton and Bush administrations beginning with Fannie and Freddie (including Barney Frank). Now AIG is simply laundrying money for the benefit of Goldman Sachs (thanks to the Treasury Dept and Mr. Geithner who continues with Mr. Paulson's legacy). This Administration is simply trying to blame it on the business CEO's to get themselves off the hook. Don't let them get away with it.

    Thank you again Anderson for some real solid reporting.

    March 19, 2009 at 1:44 am |
  4. Suzanne

    Is there any way you could cut down on your banners at the bottom ofthe screen.  There are usually 8-10 things running at the same time and  I Ioose over 2 inches from the picture on the screen.  I know mostof the stations feel the need to do this, but yours is by far the largest.Most other station take much less room.  I tried to watch Larry King tonight and it was very difficult, Natasha Richardson looked like a beautiful woman, what I could see of her behind your banners.  Please think about cutting down the size of your banner.  Tks Suze

    March 18, 2009 at 9:49 pm |
  5. Fahad Ali

    There is always a job to do, and when the right person is there to take the job it ends up as a successor-ship and that is how this feels on the other side it is my honest view that don't it feel the middle man takes half of the success in the beating of the green, middle man in this picture today out of most the markets jobs so this one
    today seems as of somehow people temp to find the right chances and taking it at the right time always makes such story

    thank you

    March 18, 2009 at 9:46 pm |
  6. Tina

    I cannot believe some of your guests have the adacity to try an defend AIG,s repulsive behaivor! If we have such a problem with top executives raping the American people we need to take them all on, one at a time, and try to get some respect back into our nation. If we the people own AIG, we can hire new and honest workers! Have you ever heard the saying everyone is replaceable!! Executives have been telling the lower echelon this for years! Now eat some of your own words! All of you thieves!!!

    March 18, 2009 at 9:03 pm |
  7. Wade Goehner

    Good job, on the in depth reporting of where our main street money has gone . The presidential address presented this information very well. Keep up the good work. CNN will be my primary source of unbiassed information.

    March 18, 2009 at 9:00 pm |
  8. Suzanne Wright

    Hi Anderson,

    We had a discussion about our strategic metrics today where someone voiced the general blame on Business Schools for what is happening on Wallstreet and beyond. Further, we are tasked with instilling ethics in college students. If the very politicians that were elected by these well meaning students, do not have the ethical fortitude to do what is required, how can we possibly instill that student ethical behavior, as well as those they voted for, will even be remotely effective?? Further, when State funds are cut to the point of negative funding, how can we keep this excellence in education ahead of the miserable mess that is confronting us?

    Thank you

    March 18, 2009 at 8:53 pm |
  9. Annie Kate

    I'm glad he got the trial period; I hope he gets the job full time after the week. Hopefully, more of us can find green jobs as well but until then its encouraging that he got a job.

    March 18, 2009 at 8:43 pm |
  10. Terry, TX

    We had February CNN and Black History Month and now March CNN we have this all over CNN. No wonder Lou Dobbs has every show ...every show....on CNN beat them in the ratings.

    March 18, 2009 at 8:40 pm |
  11. JOSEPH

    I want to comment on the A.I.G situation, My comment is why after the big company's make bad on their propsoals, why does the federal government feel they need to keep investing in them. The president stated that "it was the right thing to do to step in". On the other hand he is saying we need to build from the bottom up, but with another breath says, that we cant let these banks fall. Is it not true that if you take some of these power houses out the way or in this situation let them collapse from there own wrong doing that it will pave the way for smaller businesses to get a peace of the economy by spreading these big businesses business to smaller businesses with the same discipline and at the same time mitigating the amount of money the government spends on bail outs but invest in inpowering these smaller businesses with the responsiblity of managing their communities lending. In return taking the net away, this allows the GIANTS to look down over their balcony a see where they will be if they miss represent themselves.

    March 18, 2009 at 8:36 pm |