AEI can’t cure the state’s unemployment problem by itself. But that won’t stop the regional service provider for Dish Network from trying.
The Green Bay company, which provides all of the service for Dish Network in Wisconsin and Michigan, is in the midst of a growth spurt that resulted in the addition of 100 employees already this year, and the company is looking to add another 100 in the next couple of months.
“We’ve been extremely busy,” said Lori Reynolds, AEI human resource manager. “Every time technology changes, we get busy.
“Even when the economy takes a dive, nobody seems to get rid of their TV. So we constantly stay busy and now we’re growing. It’s crazy. I haven’t seen growth like this, so it’s pretty exciting.”
Reynolds said the company currently has 11 employees in training for jobs in the Madison area and plans to add 20 over the next couple of months for a total of 65 employees. The local office is at 4788 McFarland Court in McFarland.
Finding enough skilled workers, even with relatively high unemployment, is no easy task.
Alternative Entertainment Inc., which was founded in 1998, is recruiting around the state with job fairs and advertising. The company also offers $500 for referrals that lead to employees.
Job candidates must pass drug screening and background checks, and pass strength tests to determine if they can perform the necessary tasks.
Candidates who make it that far then go to Green Bay for a 10-day training session, then get some on-the-job training with veteran technicians.
“We do a lot of screening and it eliminates a lot of folks,” Reynolds said. “We’re trying to make sure that people we hire can handle this type of work. We really have to get out there and recruit. We can’t just expect people to come to us.
“It is a lot of work when you start hauling that dish up on top of a roof,” she said. “We can’t just go out and hire anyone.
“We always ask people if they’re comfortable with heights. Every six months or so, someone will start climbing the ladder the first day of training and all of the sudden they freeze and go ‘Oh goodness.’”
There is plenty of incentive to climb that ladder, as employees can earn as much as $100,000 a year, Reynolds said.
She said that business is likely to grow further if Dish’s proposed merger with Sprint goes through. The merger would allow Dish and Sprint to bundle satellite TV, high speed Internet and mobile service.
“We’re keeping our eye on that merger,” Reynolds said. “That could be big. I’ve never seen a layoff here, in my 4½ years with the company. We were at 100 (employees) then, and we’ve grown and grown and grown.”
For information on job opportunities at AEI, go to www.aeidish.com.