Norris Inc. recently participated in the Maine Hire-A-Vet Campaign 2018, which took place for the 100 days leading up to August 30th, 2018. The campaign culminated with the annual Maine Hire-A-Vet Job fair held at the Augusta Civic Center. Pre-job fair announcements advertised the event as having north of 220 registered employers, making it, at that time the largest job fair in the state.
The goal of the MHAV campaign and job fair was to “help at least 100 employers recruit and hire at least 100 veterans and military family members over 100 days,” according to the event’s Facebook page.
According to State of Maine Veterans Program Manager Auta Main, the campaign was a definitive success.
“As far as we know it’s the largest job fair we have conducted in Maine. However when the economy was somewhat depressed in 2008 – 2010 we used to see close to 1,000 jobseekers come to job fairs,” Main said. “Today, of course, this has shifted as employers are hungry for good applicants! It’s the most EMPLOYERS we have ever hosted at a job fair.”
Norris Chief Operations Officer Craig Elkanich agreed. “The function went well. There were almost three hundred businesses there and the Augusta Civic center was essentially at its max capacity for the event. This is the second year we have participated in the hire a vet campaign,” Elkanich said. “Some of our best employees currently serve, or served in the past in either the military or as a first responder.”
Elkanich attended the job fair on the 30th with Norris IT Manager Alan Jochem. Jochem doesn’t talk about it much, but he is a veteran himself, and he feels that his service prepared him and prepares others in ways that no other experience can.
“I am a 20-year vet and am very proud of what I did and enjoyed almost every minute of the 20 years. When I left, I left, moved on, don’t hardly ever talk about the Navy unless someone asks about it,” Jochem Said. “How do I feel about Norris and their Respect to the service? I am very proud to work for Norris as they do recognize what we did for the country and ultimately for Norris.”
Elkanich agreed with Jochem. “These employees are typically some of the hardest workers,” he said. “Norris Inc. was proud to be a part of the campaign to help ensure they find meaningful and stable employment.”
Jochem further explained the skills veterans bring to any employer. “Norris is very lucky to have good military background personnel as we bring many of the things that make a strong employee: leadership, work ethic, problem-solving skills, cross-trained to do many things,” he said. “I enjoy the camaraderie that occurs due to the fact the many of the employees are ex-military and are from different branches of the service.”
State of Maine’s Main agreed that veteran applicants brought a lot to the table.
“Veterans are leaders at a young age. They are disciplined, prompt, creative, daring, innovative, efficient. They are team players,” Main said. “ Share your mission and give them a job and it will get done—efficiently, effectively and superbly!”
Next year’s event will likely be held on August 29th at the Augusta Civic Center and Main says it’s sure to be another successful venture, bringing veterans and Maine’s top companies together. Hiring companies will be able to register by late June 2019. The Hire-A-Vet event was started in 2015.
The 2018 event brought together around 250 employers and 525 candidates comprised of 325 civilians and 200 veterans. Hilton Hotels also chipped in by offering free lodging for veterans who weren’t from the area.
“Through the Hilton Honors Program, we had 13 veterans (who lived at least 40 miles from the Augusta area) taking advantage of the free accommodations (provided by Hilton) to participate in the job fair,” Main said. “A couple of them were from out-of-state!”
Main is hopeful the event will continue on its current trajectory.
“We (Maine Department of Labor) launched the campaign with a few partners in 2015,” Main said. “I/we have been involved from the get-go and it’s very exciting to see how it has grown!”
What is Norris all about?
Norris, Inc.—a South Portland, Maine-based life-safety and security systems integrator with satellite offices in Bangor, Maine; Lee, New Hampshire; and Burlington, Vermont—was founded nearly 40 years ago by two brothers, Brad and Harty Norris. The brothers remain on the board of directors today and continue to help steer the enterprise toward its goal of advancing life-safety, security, and communications while striving to grow in its status as Northern New England’s leading systems integrator. Norris provides fully integrated life-safety and security solutions, comprising disparate systems including fire alarm, intrusion detection, access control, video surveillance, emergency notification, and communications.