Laurinburg’s Lowe’s Home Improvement store was recognized recently by a veterans’ organization for its commitment to keeping veterans employed.
Lowe’s was nominated by Scotland County JobLink as the DAV North Carolina Outstanding Small Employer of the Year. The award is presented each year to a small or large employer that hires military veterans. It is judged on factors including the total number of disabled and campaign badge veterans employed by a company, the number of employees hired in the last year, and the total number of veterans hired in the last year.
In the statewide judging, the retailer received an honorable mention for its hiring of veterans and support of veterans in the community at large.
Some 300 veterans are currently on the unemployment rolls in Scotland County, according to Gregory Jones, disabled veterans outreach specialist at Scotland County JobLink. In one month, JobLink is generally able to find jobs for two or three of them.
In the last 12 months, Lowe’s has hired nine campaign badge veterans and one disabled veteran. The store also recognizes veterans on Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day and gives veterans a 10 percent discount on all purchases.
Ella Hines, commander of Raeford DAV Chapter 17, presented the honorable mention plaque last week to Lowe’s manager Ty Holliday and HR manager Vickie Clark.
“Lowe’s has been instrumental in placing the most vets in the general area,” Jones said. “We always ask the question of how many veterans have you hired and we don’t get that much response even though we try to promote the hiring of vets.”
From an employer’s perspective, young veterans recently separated from the military often have management abilities uncommon in workers under the age of 30.
“We’ve come to realize that a veteran is usually well-rounded, they usually have some experience with supervising,” said Jones, himself retired from the U.S. Air Force. “If they spent four years in the military more likely they will get to be in charge of something or someone. One building may have a million dollars in equipment, and after two years in the military, someone may be placed in charge of that. The military has no problem placing that responsibility on people - they train them well in all branches.”
For employers like Lowe’s, who expect a certain basic skill set in their prospective employees, hiring veterans can save the company both time and training hours.
“Lowe’s gives an assessment test and that assessment test is based on customer service skills and common sense things, and almost every veteran that I’ve sent there has passed the assessment test, whereas somebody who’s straight out of high school and expects to go to work, unless they’ve been outside of the county, they won’t have those skills,” said Jones.