Chester Jenke

New Braunfels Economic Development Corporation has the charge to create primary jobs for New Braunfels. This is one of those challenges that one must understand what a primary job or primary employer is — or understand the difference between a primary employer and a secondary employer. Primary employers are those companies that produce a product “or service” and export that product or service out of the New Braunfels market — which in turn brings in “new” money. A secondary employer is a job that brings in products created or manufactured elsewhere and sell this locally — so this money is considered “recycled” within the community.

When Canadian General — Tower Ltd. (CGT for short) was recruited in 2015, the news was huge for New Braunfels. “CGT Recruitment creates 200 new jobs in New Braunfels” was the headline. CGT in New Braunfels makes the vinyl (synthetic leather) surfaces found in cars and is a supplier for several of the major automakers. They also have locations in Canada, China and France where those locations manufacture other commodities such as movie screens, pool liners, and roofing liners. But what do these jobs really mean? I recently had the opportunity to sit down (via Zoom) with a couple of CGT employees to talk about just that — what has this new employer meant to you.

The first employee that was interviewed was Michael “Mikie” Barrientos who is a 40-year-old New Braunfels native. Mikie started his career at CGT as one of the first eight hires. Mikie reflected back to the Herald-Zeitung newspaper headline and thought this would be a great job in his home town and he wanted to work there, explaining his desire was “kinda corny, but it was my goal.” 

He attended one of the first job fairs that was held at the chamber’s Honors Hall, as he recalled. The first attempt at landing the job didn’t go quite as planned (we will get to this later), but worked out well in the end. Mikie started with CGT as a line leader when the manufacturing plant opened and has been promoted to a production supervisor. 

Mikie’s previous job required he commute out of New Braunfels for employment — so this is a New Braunfelser that has been “re-shored” to New Braunfels for work. When asked why he likes working in New Braunfels Mikie stated, “It’s a 7-8 minute commute and it is home to me.” 

The second employee interviewed was Leslie Johnson who is a 20-year New Braunfels resident who brags she is a proud mother of five Canyon Cougars. Leslie was hired by CGT as their director of human resources and has enjoyed every minute of it. When asked about what her favorite part of working at CGT was, she boastfully stated “the people — it is an incredible workforce.” Leslie, too, was commuting out of New Braunfels for her previous job where she was the vice president of human resources for a nonprofit. 

“The opportunity to work in New Braunfels that CGT provided was an easy decision to make,” said Leslie. 

She stated that she loves the opportunity to work in New Braunfels where she lives, but even more she has the opportunity to be close to her kids — even sneaking in a lunch opportunity at school from time to time. 

I said that I would get back to Mikie’s first attempt at landing the job at CGT, so here it is. Mikie went to the job fair at Honors Hall and had a conversation with Leslie. Leslie said that his smile and great attitude convinced her that Mikie needed an interview; however, Mikie had no resume and had never attempted to create a resume — which was needed to get the interview. Mikie left the job fair and went to New Braunfels Workforce Solutions for help — and their final product was completed the same day and returned to Leslie; Mikie did get the interview, and as they say the rest is history.

These are probably stories that can be replicated by many others that are working within new business and industry that is recruited to New Braunfels. The impact that is made by allowing New Braunfelsers the opportunity to get a job in New Braunfels.

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