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Mortgage lender Paddio plans to occupy and additional 15,000 square feet this fall at 1930 W. Bennett St.
SBJ photo by McKenzie Robinson
Mortgage lender Paddio plans to occupy and additional 15,000 square feet this fall at 1930 W. Bennett St.

Paddio, others make aggressive hiring plays

Startup mortgage lender aims to double workforce and expand footprint by year’s end

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Around 10 months into operations, mortgage lender Paddio plans to expand its workforce and footprint.

The company intends to add another 100 employees, bringing its Springfield workforce to 200 by year’s end, said Ryan Kluttz, director of production. To accommodate the growth, Paddio plans to nearly double the 16,000 square feet it occupies at 1930 W. Bennett St., Ste. 100, in a building shared with One Call Care Management.

Kluttz said the company expects to expand this fall into an adjacent 15,000 square feet. Accounting for growth into the currently vacant space, he said up to 230 employees can be accommodated.

“We feel like this model is very scalable and it’s just a matter of finding the right fits to get over here, get trained up and get going,” he said, noting roughly 70% of the company’s workforce is loan officers.

Kluttz said Paddio offers lending nationwide and is consistently busy processing loans monthly at a high rate but declined to disclose volumes.

Paddio was created through Columbia-based Veterans United Home Loans’ entry into the market. At the time, Paddio’s local job goal was 100 employees.

The mortgage lender is far from the only company in hiring mode amid a marketplace in which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the most recent unemployment rate in the Springfield metropolitan statistical area came is 3.6%, in March. The Missouri and U.S. rates have hovered around 4% and 6%, respectively, the past two months. During April, Missouri’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment rose by 600 jobs to 2.8 million compared with March.

Navigating challenges
Glanbia Nutritionals Inc. and Red Monkey Foods Inc. are among local manufacturing companies seeking workers.

Shelley Messina, human resources business partner at Glanbia Nutritionals, said the food ingredients manufacturer wants to add around 20 people to the 180-employee staff at its Springfield plant in Partnership Industrial Center West. She said the local workforce was around 40 when she started with the company seven years ago.

“We’re continuing to grow and looking at ways we can take care of our customers through production,” she said.

Manufacturing operators, warehouse workers and maintenance technicians are among those being sought for all three shifts. Getting employees to come in for interviews has been a challenge, she said.

“We’re doing a $500 sign-on bonus. We’ve increased our starting wage,” she said.

Pay was adjusted last month, she said, adding it previously started at $12 an hour. Now, first shift is $15.25, second shift pays $15.75 and third shift starts at $16.75.

Starting pay at Red Monkey, a private-label organic spice manufacturing company, ranges $11.50-$16 an hour, said Kenneth Cane, human resources manager.

The company moved to Republic’s Brookline Business Park in 2017 from its original headquarters in Mount Vernon. Officials are looking to boost the current 277-employee count as demand for spices have increased over the past year, Cane said.

“We currently have over 60 openings, so fully staffed we’d be well over 300,” he said, noting the company typically has no more than 10 openings at one time. “It’s gone up quite a bit in the last few months.”

However, while openings have increased, interest from prospective employees hasn’t followed suit since the middle of last year, Cane said.

“The number of applications dwindled, but the number of people qualified for some of our jobs dropped off as well,” he said. “This area has always been challenging with recruiting. There’s always been a lot of competition. But with COVID and the extra unemployment [benefits], it’s kind of just made people not want to come out and work.”

No-shows at interviews also have been a problem since last year, he said.

“I would say a quarter to a third of the people that apply that we schedule for an interview don’t show up,” he said, adding the amount is typically no more than 10%.

Cane said current employees can earn up to $400 in Red Monkey’s refer-a-friend program and the company is considering other incentives. “We’re looking into possible wage adjustments and sign-on bonuses, but we don’t have anything in effect for that right now,” he said.

Entertainment-focused employers, such as movie theaters, are reopening after temporary closures amid the pandemic. Some theaters are actively searching for employees as Hollywood begins to roll out a slate of long-delayed films.

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Springfield reopened April 28 after temporarily shuttering for most of the past year. The theater is hosting weekly hiring events as it looks for guest attendants, support staff and kitchen workers, according to its Facebook page.

Selling points
At Paddio, Kluttz said the firm handles Federal Housing Administration and conventional loans, while parent company Veterans United Home Loans is the nation’s top Veterans Affairs lender, according to federal data.

Veterans United Home Loans ranked as the No. 1 employer in Missouri on a Forbes list published last year based on survey data from 80,000 workers nationwide. It’s a selling point for prospective employees, Kluttz said, adding company officials saw Springfield’s population – estimated in 2019 at nearly 170,000 by the U.S. Census Bureau – and its many colleges as attractors for building its workforce.

“Veterans United has a great reputation as far as hiring good people,” he said. “That’s been a huge resource for us is leveraging that brand. We’ve done a lot with referrals.”

Paddio has a very competitive starting wage and referral bonuses, Kluttz said, declining to disclose figures.

Kluttz said doubling the workforce is ambitious but he’s confident the company will find workers to fill the openings.

“We’re at 100 now, and we started in August. We feel like we can hit it,” he said. “It’s also something that if we don’t, it’s not discouraging to us. We’re just going to keep growing as fast as we can.”

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