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.
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