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Print jobs: Shortly after layoffs, MakerBot opens new factory, begins hiring

Boot it up: MakerBot chief executive officer Jonathan Jaglom cuts the ribbon on the 3D printing company’s new Sunset Park factory alongside Borough President Adams.
Photo by Jason Speakman

The Brooklyn tech darling that laid off 100 people in April has just opened its new factory in Sunset Park — and now the company is hiring.

MakerBot, a 3D printer manufacturer, unveiled a new factory in the waterfront industrial complex Industry City on July 22 that’s twice the size of its former space and could accommodate double the number of factory workers it has now.

The company, a leader in making 3D printers a household commodity, is looking to bring on about 40 new people just three months after it axed about 100 jobs — reportedly one-fifth of its workforce — citing a reorganization. But factory jobs weren’t really on the chopping block in the springtime cull — on the contrary, MakerBot sought to trim ancillary positions in order to beef up its factory line and quality control, according to the company’s new chief executive officer.

“There were certain areas that we had to reconsider … retail stores being a great example of that,” said Jonathan Jaglom. “Some of [the new hiring] is back-filling, some of it is new positions, some of it is expansion in certain areas.”

Many of the new jobs are on the factory floor and require little formal education or training, the manufactory’s manager said.

“We typically require a high-school diploma and we like to see a couple of years work experience,” said Diana Pincus. “Ideally, we get people with light assembly skills.”

Fewer than 19 percent of residents living in the area around the factory have a four-year college degree or more, census data shows.

The company’s relatively low barrier to entry and good advancement prospects are a boon for locals, according to a local workforce-development group.

“MakerBot gives an opportunity for folks to get in the door at an entry level and rise within the company, and achieve some economic mobility,” said Justin Collins of the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation. “They tend to pay better wages and are more likely to have more benefits than comparable retail positions.”

The corporation is helping a few dozen low-skill workers apply for jobs at MakerBot, he said.

“We’re going be referring a good number of people there starting this coming week — mainly for assembly positions,” Collins said.

MakerBot employs about 140 people on its production line, but the new factory has room to employ twice that, Pincus said.

The company began in Gowanus in 2009 and moved offices Downtown in 2013. A year later, it relocated its Boreum Hill factory and Downtown office to Industry City.

Staff handed out 3D-printed screw-and-nut sets on Wednesday to give announcement attendees a tangible takeaway from the event, but Borough President Adams said the doohickies also symbolized potential job creation in a neighborhood that was hit hard by a decline in Brooklyn manufacturing.

“For many years, our folks in this community — instead of making screws — they felt like they were being screwed,” Adams said. “And now we have an opportunity to ensure that they be part of this great revolution that’s happening here.”

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.

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