Houston Chronicle December 21, 2004 Pg. 12 Some Firms Make Concerted Effort To Hire Soldiers Maytag recruits military personnel for repair jobs By David Pitt, Associated Press DES MOINES, IOWA - Former soldiers, including those returning from Iraq or Afghanistan with disabilities, are finding that their military background can help them get jobs in civilian companies. Maytag, for example, has an aggressive recruiting program turning recently discharged soldiers into repair technicians. Home Depot began Operation Career Front and Toyota North America started its Hire A Hero program in the past few years. Companies say it's a win for them because they get high-quality workers. "They have great discipline. They have great technical skills. They understand how to follow orders and follow procedures," said Art Learmonth, president of Maytag Services. Many soldiers say it was an easy transition from war machine to washing machine. "It's a great big sense of accomplishment every time you do a job. I had the same feeling in the military," said Steve Ware, 43, of San Diego, who joined Maytag after 20 years as a Navy aircraft technician. Plenty of programs About 5,000 companies are registered with the Marine For Life program, which helps soldiers find work in civilian businesses after leaving the service, said Maj. Carolyn Dysart, spokeswoman for the program. Almost 40 companies have signed on to a separate program that hires disabled veterans, many offering jobs to soldiers coming home from Iraq with a disability. The list includes Colonial Life Insurance and the corporate office of Time Warner Cable, a unit of Time Warner. "They are saying 'We'd love to hire disabled veterans, we're here for you, send them our way,' " Dysart said. Lt. Col. John Tansill, spokesman for Employer Support of the National Guard and Reserve, said the military likes the fact that companies are seeking out soldiers. "It's telling the military, 'We like the product that you produce,' " he said. Appliance 'boot camp' Paul Adams, 25, of Spokane, Wash., said he was nervous about his job prospects after four years in the Army. "If you're making the decision to get out of the military, no matter how long you've been in, it's scary," he said. Adams posted a resume on the Monster.com Web site. The Maytag recruiter saw it and contacted him. Adams was offered a job and joined about 14 other men with military backgrounds in Galesburg, Ill., for the first Maytag "boot camp," four weeks of classroom training in appliance repair followed by four to six weeks in the field with a mentor. "Everybody was sort of impressed and felt fortunate to have an opportunity like that," he said. Maytag launched its repair business, serving all makes and models of appliances, last year. It since has expanded into more than 50 markets representing 64 percent of U.S. households and is expected to reach about 71 percent of households in 2005, Learmonth said. Sears, Roebuck & Co. is largest single company provider of home appliance repair, followed by General Electric Co. and Maytag. However, more than 75 percent of the market is served by independent appliance dealers and repair service operators, whose numbers are declining, Learmonth said. "One of the problems that we have is, as my folks say, mamas don't raise their kids to grow up to be service technicians," Learmonth said. "We've developed a solution to that problem. We hire young folks coming right out of the service. Many of them coming right back from Iraq."