RMCEP CareerForce Helps IWCO

RMCEP CareerForce Helps IWCO Main Photo

8 Dec 2021


Losing a job as a result of a layoff involves much grief, anger and fear, both from the layoff itself and the stress that comes from the difficulties in making a change. When IWCO Direct announced this past summer its intention to permanently close its Little Falls location on January 1, 2022, approximately 330 employees were placed in that position. 

Since the announcement, officials at the Little Falls RMCEP CareerForce office made their services available to IWCO employees and will continue to do so into 2023. A silver lining does exist for those employees, said Sam Froelich, RMCEP CareerForce Team Leader, in that the current workforce market has plenty of potential for those seeking employment.

“These individuals can take heart that this is a good time to be seeking a job because the skills they have place them in high demand, which can lead to employment perks not always available, like sign-on bonuses,” she said. “Many former IWCO employees have been able to find excellent wages in their new jobs, comparable to or even better than what they had with IWCO.”

Brian Gapinski, RMCEP CareerForce Program Manager, contrasted the current job market with that of the economic crisis in 2009 when there were not many jobs available. 

“We are definitely in an employee’s market today by comparison,” he said.

IWCO Direct has been a leader in direct marketing for nearly 50 years. It has two locations in the United States, two of which are in Minnesota. With its August announcement to close the Little Falls facility, the company planned to lay off about half of the employees there by November 1, with the remaining to continue through the end of the year.    

Services for employees

RMCEP CareerForce offers a range of services for individuals year-round. To assist those impacted by the IWCO closure, RMCEP CareerForce established an advisory team led by Froelich as a communication tool between the RMCEP CareerForce Center and IWCO staff to get employment information directly to IWCO employees.

“IWCO has gone all out to help their employees find their next location of employment,” said Gapinski.

RMCEP CareerForce’s Dislocated Worker Program is designed to prepare workers who have been laid off through no fault of their own to find a suitable new job at no cost to them. Services include career planning and counseling, counselor-approved training and job search and placement services. Specifically for the IWCO employees, the intake team set up at the IWCO facility to make it easy for employees to submit applications for the Program.

In addition, RMCEP CareerForce has assisted with two job fairs, one at the IWCO facility and one which they hosted at the Little Falls RMCEP CareerForce Parking Lot. Nearly 100 businesses participated in the fairs, including local firms in Little Falls to many from other states, representing a range of industries like manufacturing and printing. It was very evident there is plenty of competition for the former IWCO staff, said Froelich.

“There are hundreds of openings now and more coming in as a result of several major business expansions we are aware of,” she said. “There are opportunities in Little Falls, but if a person is willing to learn a new skill or increase their search area beyond the local area, there are good employment opportunities available now.”

While the majority of the IWCO employees are looking to reenter the workforce, RMCEP CareerForce does offer services for those wishing to pursue other paths via educational opportunities. Limited funding options are possible for long-term college assistance, while short-term training to obtain certificates or licenses like a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) can provide immediate results.

“If you have your CDL license, you can drive tomorrow,” said Gapinski.

Universal service examples offered by RMCEP CareerForce include resume preparation, mock interviews, online job search, application assistance, general networking and general job search techniques, to name a few. Little Falls RMCEP CareerForce staff have hosted several workshops weekly for these services, with more than 100 IWCO employees coming to the RMCEP CareerForce office to work on their resumes. 

Assistance for new employers

RMCEP CareerForce also provides assistance to those employers seeking to hire former IWCO employees. Personnel work with each new employer to develop a Skills Gap Analysis to set up On-the-Job Training at the new site. With this, RMCEP CareerForce can facilitate compensation to offset the training expenses the new employer may incur, including reimbursing the employer up to 50% of the wages they pay the new employee for a maximum of six months.

“We compare the skills the former IWCO employee has to what they would need for their new job so they can get up to speed quickly for their new employer,” said Gapinski. 

Amidst a stressful overall situation, Gapinski foresees a positive outcome for the IWCO employees. Despite the difficult decision to close, IWCO has been very willing to partner with RMCEP CareerForce to help their employees find new jobs, he said.

“I believe that attitude has helped the employees know that everyone is working for them to find new employment,” he said. 

IWCO employees can access RMCEP CareerForce assistance via email, calling (320) 232-2000 or stopping in the office at 609 13th Avenue NE Suite G, Little Falls.