During the lunchtime of a typical weekday at BYD Lancaster Bus Factory, a steady stream of people, mostly Caucasians and Hispanics, were lining up to order food from several food trucks outside the factory building.[Special coverage]
“When I came here three years ago, there were only five employees,” a food truck owner called Carolina told Xinhua while busy serving tacos, burgers, and coffee to her customers. “There are hundreds of people working here now. I am having more customers and competitors,” she added.
As the world's largest manufacturer of rechargeable batteries and electric vehicles, the Chinese company BYD established its factory in Lancaster, California in May 2013. Now with over 560 employees, the BYD factory has become one of the major job supporting companies in Lancaster.
“I was the first employee when I started with BYD. I worked alone for a week, then they hired five more people, and then 20 more,” production line supervisor Alvaro Jimenez recalled.
The BYD's 110,000-square-feet (10219 square meters) facility is undergoing an expansion to 446,000 square feet (41435 square meters) by this July, with 1,000 to 1,500 more job opportunities coming along, and its yearly production capacity will increase from 350 to 1,500 vehicles.
“The local economy has already realized a significant boost thanks to the addition of much-needed jobs through our growing partnership with BYD,” said Rex Parris, mayor of the Lancaster City at the announcement of the expansion.
Most employees at the factory are local residents. Vern Lawson, Economic Development Directer of the Lancaster City stated that many people have lost their jobs since “the severe economic downturn” in recent years. The BYD factory brought over 560 job opportunities, helping people get back on their feet.
A 60-year-old worker Peter Gibson, who started working here two months ago, was transporting heavy parts with his co-workers. “I have 12 children, and my job here is very stable. As long as I work hard and do not make mistakes, they won't fire me,” Gibson said with satisfaction.
“We often talk about wealth importing jobs, which bring new payrolls into this community,” Lawson told Xinhua. “We have service jobs such as teaching, newspaper, gas stations, restaurants. But they can only survive on a strong basic economy, which is based on wealth importing companies. That's precisely what BYD is.”
In the dense plants, electric buses were built from zero on the production line, where over 400 technicians were doing assembly, plate shearing, bending, testing and painting.
At a lunch break, Jose S. Hernandez, a 29-year-old technician was still working under an overhanging bus. “I am doing the final chassis check,” said Hernandez, who used to work at an auto repair shop but wanted to learn more. “I want to become an engineer and I think electric car is the future. That's why I chose BYD,” he added.
Yet not everyone of the BYD employees have relevant experiences, so BYD offers them a 30-day Training Program.
“Before they come to BYD, they might have been doing cleaning, delivering, or some other low-tech jobs. So for the first week, we teach them some basic knowledge, then we take another three or four weeks to train them in welding, installing or some other skills,” Stella Li, Senior Vice President of BYD explained.
“Build Your Dreams” is what BYD stands for and what the employees believe in. “I do not see any difference whether it was a Chinese company or an American factory. I see a future in it,” Jimenez said with a smile.