Help Wanted: In search of engineers, Chickasha firm looks to Madison to expand
Excerpted from The Oklahoman
By Brianna Bailey
CHICKASHA — When it needed to open a new development lab, Oklahoma hermetic switch maker HSI Sensing chose Madison, Wis., for the location, some 876 miles away from Chickasha.
HSI Sensing opened a 5,800-square-foot engineering lab in Madison in July with three employees. The lab focuses on developing new manufacturing technology, processes and efficiency.
The company anticipates adding 15 jobs to the Madison lab in the next two to three years.
Founder William Posey started the company in 1968 in his basement. HSI today is employee owned and has a workforce of about 200 in Chickasha. Posey wanted the company to be based in a rural area and chose Chickasha because it was still close to the Oklahoma City airport, about 43 miles, but that has led to some growing pains over the years.
The company doubled its electrical and mechanical engineering staff at its headquarters in the past year, but has trouble recruiting in Chickasha, a city of about 16,000 people, said Travis Posey, HSI’s vice president of business development.
“Yes, it is difficult from a company standpoint,” Travis Posey said.
To help recruit engineering staff, the company offers competitive benefits. As an employee-owned company, HSI also offers its employees a stock-sharing plan, Posey said.
The company chose Madison for its new engineering lab in part because it found a group of engineers it wanted to work with there and also because of Wisconsin’s strong research and development industry and access to state career and technical programs that focus on engineering and robotics, Posey said.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 18.9 percent of adults 25 and older in Chickasha held a bachelor’s degree or higher between 2009 and 2013. That compares to the national rate of 28.8 percent. In Madison, 26.8 percent of adults 25 and older have attained a bachelor’s degree or higher.
HSI makes reed switches, tiny electrical switches operated by an applied magnetic field. Reed switches first were used in telephone exchanges but are today used for everything from monitoring pacemakers, fluid levels and security systems to tracking spacecraft or firefighters on the job.
“With the company’s focus on innovation, R&D (research and development) and precision manufacturing, it is a perfect fit for this region,” said Paul Jadin, president of the Madison Region Economic Partnership, which assisted HSI with its location and expansion search. “The talent pool and industry partners available in this area will provide a solid foundation for the company’s success as it expands in Wisconsin.”