AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) -- There's a growing demand in the Valley for packaging technicians. Ted Wilcoxen was looking for a change of scenery when it came to his job,so he turned to a temp agency for help.
"They hooked me up with an interview early that morning and I come here, I loved it. All this, there's the technology everywhere here. It's really cool. Everything- every time you turn around there is something new to learn," said Wilcoxen.
Wilcoxen works for Graphic Packaging in Augusta County as a folder gluer operartor. The company makes many of the boxes you see in stores. On Feb. 27, Graphic Packaging announced it was adding 43 jobs similar to Wilcoxen's position.
"I fold and glue paperboard cartons. My machine takes a flat blank that's been cut and scoured by die-cutter. We send it through the machine, apply glue to certain areas and then pack them into cases to be sent to a customer to pack with their product," said Wilcoxen.
"As your machines become more technically complex, new pieces of tooling, new bits of machinery you're able to fold different types of boxes, new ideas, engineering new cartons. There is always something new to learn to apply to your job. The paperboard market changes everyday."
According to economic statistics gathered by the Shenandoah Valley Partnership, the median salary for this position is $33,254 per year. Experienced workers in the field can earn $40,942 and higher. By 2022, there will be a need for 767 positions in the Valley from printing operators and technicians to packaging machine operators. Training involves a one-year CareerStudies Certificate in Paperboard Packaging Technology from Blue Ridge Community College, technical training, apprenticeship and training once you get a job.
Wilcoxen takes pride in seeing packaging he helped make on store shelves.
"Everyday, everyday. My family, they get annoyed with it because I be like, 'Oh, I glued that up.' It's really- that's really cool, seeing your work out there and everyone is touching it," added Wilcoxen.
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