While contract workers provide flexibility with fluctuating workloads, AAR wants to get the percentage down from 40 percent to 25 percent in Duluth.
"We'll always have a need for some contractors," said Jennie Sage, AAR's human resources manager. "Some chose short term, some long term. If they like the city, the workplace and the management, they're going to stick around."
Contract workers, who sign up for six-month or 12-month stints, rent apartments or have extended stays in local hotels or motels.
"They complain there's not enough affordable housing, temporary or permanent," Ketterer said.
Permanent employees tend to have a different experience.
"Our permanent AAR employees are finding homes and apartments, and they love it here," Ketterer said. "They seem to like it, they seem to like the city. Yeah, it's cold but they're from all over, including Michigan where there's an A&P (airframe and power-plant) school."
Efforts are underway to locally supply the licensed aircraft mechanics needed by AAR and the Twin Ports growing aviation sector. A two-year program on airframe and power-plant mechanics is being developed at Lake Superior College in Duluth and is targeted to launch next fall. And AAR is partnering with Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls, which offers specialized aviation maintenance training.
As for the qualified aircraft mechanics still out there who haven't applied because they were unsure about AAR's future in Duluth, Ketterer wants to assure them.
"We're here," he said. "We're not going anywhere. That's what we have to get out to those people. There's a lot of old mechanics out there we'd love to have back."
With Air Canada alone, AAR has the workload to bring the base to full capacity with four fully staffed lines. So with enough qualified people, the base's work force could grow to 360 people, Ketterer said.
AAR Aircraft Services' plans to hire an additional 40 people at its maintenance, repair and overhaul facility
To fill those openings, AAR has expanded its recruiting efforts to the Twin Cities and the rest of the state; it is also partnering with and hiring from Northland Community & Technical College in...