Primera Plastics: More than just a job

Primera Plastics: More than just a job

Elena Ysquierdo

“I have a job mainly just to provide myself with money to pay for my vehicle and bills. The only benefit I get is learning how to change a baby’s diaper,” said Sr. Grace Hall.  Working as a babysitter can get quite stressful for a teenager currently in high school. There aren’t many benefits to it, just money. In many cases, this is the situation for West Ottawa high school students. Many teenagers aren’t provided with jobs that help them out with their near future. Luckily this isn’t my case.


  At the beginning of my sophomore year, I realized that I wasn’t going to get far in life if I didn’t have a job. Time was short and money was in need. The main reason for wanting to get a job was for the money, like many others, but I wanted something more than that, something that could help me in my near future.


  Many high school students have jobs out of the necessity to help support their families; others work to earn spending money or contribute toward a college fund. But do high school students really think about what jobs can provide them for their future?

  Primera Pathways, a career-starter program at Zeeland-based Primera Plastics, is a pathway designed to help young people get started in the plastics industry with paid on-the-job training, benefits, skill development, and education incentives.

  Primera is a company passionate about education and personal development. The Primera pathways program gives young adults a jump-start to their journey in personal development. The  pathways program empowers young adults to take control of their success. Each individual is coached on developing skills to ensure success in their desired field of interest.

  Young adults working towards finishing high school are given the opportunity to save money for college and/or trade schools through financial intelligence coaching. They are advised on how to budget and save. After graduation, Primera matches up to $2,500 of what the individual has saved for college/trade school.

 “If someone has told it’s impossible, show them that it is,” said Primera Plastics President Noel Cuellar. “What we’re trying to do is have the young adults defy the expectations.” He said he knows how hard it is for young people to start a career without a support system.

  “The program is providing part-time light manufacturing jobs to West Ottawa High School students,” Cuellar said. The students began in April. They work 15 hours a week for $9 an hour, and are required to keep their grades up to remain in the program.

The company provides free transportation to and from work. The pathways van program is designed to help those without transportation commute to work beginning in high school through one year after full-time employment.

  “We started the Primera Pathways program to help young people get a start in the industry and develop the job and personal skills to build a career,” Cuellar said. “It also is intended to create skilled people for our industry.”

  “Success is different to everyone,” said Primera Plastics CFO Steve Berkenpas. “These students all gain something from this pathway, to each their own. Four students already have been given scholarships toward the college of their choice.”  

  Each person is their own success story, but if you put every success story together with those you worked with, it could become something bigger.

     There are unlimited possibilities out there for young adults, they just have to put in that little extra time to find it. Primera Plastics has opportunities waiting for those who want it. You’ll find long-term career options and a chance to grow with a company that values its employees. This Pathway provides exciting personal and professional rewards surrounding those who work hard for it, in an environment that challenges you to be your best.

  Primera Plastics is a growing precision plastics injection molding company that continually strives to support and provide opportunity in the workplace and community. Knowing that there aren’t many jobs for young adults, Primera Plastics is one of the very few companies willing to help them out and prepare them for the real world. I was fortunate enough to be given this opportunity. Maybe you can too.