As Scorpion Biological Services Inc. prepares to break ground on a 500,000-square-foot facility near Manhattan, Kansas, in October, efforts are underway to begin staffing the state-of-the-art manufacturing plant.
“Even though construction won’t be complete for 18 months, I’ll have a majority of my workforce hired before the doors even open,” David Halverson, president of Scorpion, said. “We’re going to need a lot of people and there will be a significant Scorpion presence in Manhattan by the end of the year.”
By 2026, Scorpion intends to employ about 500 people. To achieve this, the company will be ramping up hiring efforts in late 2022 with 38 target positions to be filled by early 2023. Currently, Scorpion is establishing its organizational structure and creating job descriptions. The need is significant for many types of career positions.
“While we are a cutting-edge, automated, high-tech biomanufacturing company, that does not mean you need to have a master’s degree or a Ph.D. to work with Scorpion,” Halverson said. “Less than 15% of my workforce has to have a higher education.”
From interns to skilled trades to executives, the company expects to have a range of positions available. As they staff the facility over the coming years, Scorpion will need employees in human resources, training, quality control and assurance, finance and accounting, support positions, student advocacy, facilities management, construction management, electrical, plumbing, steamfitting and more.
Many jobs require special training and Scorpion is working with Kansas State University and Manhattan Area Technical College to bring important certification courses to the area and partner with their higher education partners to leverage talent and other assets. Additionally, Halverson said there are great opportunities for veterans.
“Being prior service myself, I know there isn’t a better trained person out there than a United States soldier. Scorpion has a lot of jobs where we can really use the expertise of the military and what Fort Riley has to offer,” Halverson said. “Compounding that, we’re in an FDA-regulated environment, so attention to detail and the ability to strictly adhere to policies and procedures is paramount to our success. This is a highly qualified workforce that’s used to being in a regulated, regimented environment. It’s a win-win.”
The company is active on Handshake to connect with many universities including K-State for potential interns. Interns will gain experience working in labs and manufacturing facilities like the soon-to-open location in San Antonio. If all goes well, interns could have job prospects at Scorpion after graduation.
Scorpion is also casting a wide net to recruit higher-level positions, as some will require experience in biomanufacturing, which is a highly competitive industry.
“We look to find the best qualified people and the most experienced people regardless of their location,” Halverson said. “A lot of our biomanufacturing capability is located overseas, so we have to make sure that we conduct an international search.”
Halverson said they also plan to encourage the next generation of scientists by partnering with local elementary and middle schools to spark an interest in STEM subjects.
“Realistically, we’re going to need a lot of people over the next 15 to 20 years, so we need to start early and get some of those bright minds engaged with STEM and show them what we’re all about,” he said.
A key characteristic of successful new employees will be an ability to mesh well with the corporate culture, which Halverson described as collaborative and diverse. Encouraging employees to be open and freely share ideas is an important part of that informal culture. And employees can expect to work hard.
“We’re going to need a strong work ethic,” he said. “Biomanufacturing is not a 9 to 5 job. Cells get hungry and when cells get hungry, they’re kind of like infants. They need to be fed and they need to be fed now, whether that’s at 9 p.m. or 4 a.m. It’s not a job for the faint of heart.”
The facility will manufacture multiple products at any given time, meaning a fast tempo and a variety of projects from one day to the next. It’s a vibrant scene and the work is rewarding.
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