Sunday, October 23, 2005

Contain yourself: Opportunities abound for employees of Pacific Southwest Container

By Liz Garone
Special to Bee Creative

In most cases, the old adage, "What matters in life is what's on the inside," holds true. But not when it comes to Pacific Southwest Container. The outside presentation takes precedence for this Modesto-based packaging manufacturer. The Mayol family owned and operated company designs and manufacturers everything from simple, cardboard, shipping boxes to complex, graphic-heavy computer software packaging. That range is what sets it apart from its competitors, according to Executive Vice President of Operations Darin Jones, "We do it all," he says.

PSC's Modesto packaging facility is the largest of its kind in California, covering some 520,000 square feet and employing 370 workers. If it has to do with packaging or displays, you'll find it at PSC. Specialty areas include lithography, flexography, rotary and flat bed die cutting, specialty finishing, foam fabrication, customer service, design and digital pre-press functions.

Business at the 32-year-old company is brisk. Due to its record growth -15 percent in an industry that averages just two percent - PSC recently purchased a satellite plant from paper powerhouse Georgia-Pacific in Visalia. Some 95 people work in the Visalia plant. The company has approximately 300 customers and ships to 14 countries, including Canada, Mexico, China, Singapore, and Ireland. Annual sales for 2005 are expected to be $100 million.

"It's a fast-paced environment," says Jones. Senior Vice President of Human Resources Jim Weaver agrees. "It's a culture with a sense of urgency, designed to continually impress and delight our customers. Therefore, like our customers, it is a demanding but rewarding culture."

Productive employees are rewarded for their efforts. In addition to competitive salaries, PSC offers what is termed the "thruput" compensation plan. Bonuses are paid every four weeks and can be as high as 10 percent of the current month's salary. The specific percent is based on the dollar amount of finished goods divided by the labor required to make them. "The better the facility does in any four-week period, the more the individual receives," explains Weaver. With the exception of senior management and sales positions, everyone is eligible for the bonuses.

One of the best parts of working at PSC is the opportunity for quick advancement, says Jones. "You don't have to work your way through some sort of hierarchy to move up here. You just have to be the best candidate, internal or external," he says, noting that the company is non-union. "This place can be described as an all-you-can-eat buffet. People who are hungry to learn and work hard are rewarded with a lot of opportunity and advancement."

New employees are given on-the-job training, which varies depending on the specific position. For example, Jones recently hired a college graduate for a customer service position. For two to four months, the new hire will float between machine centers in the Modesto plant. Part of the time, he will shadow employees; the rest of the time, he will be handling the machines. The idea is that "he will be learning it to that depth," Jones says.

Human Resources' Weaver says that there are "opportunities everywhere for ambitious people." Current job openings include lithographic operators, positions in electro-mechanics, cutting press operators, Class A-licensed drivers, and various entry-level manufacturing positions. Starting pay for entry-level positions is $9.75 an hour. After six months, the hourly rate goes to $10.65.

PCS offers a full benefits package, including medical, vision, dental and life insurance, along with vacation, sick and holiday pay, education reimbursement, and a 401(K) match program. Full-time employees are eligible for benefits after 90 days. Those interested in jobs at PSC can e-mail resumes to Applications can also be picked up at the Employment Development Department at 629 12th St. in downtown Modesto. PSC also lists positions with CalJOBS (

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