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Pontiac — An automotive and aerospace engineering services provider is hoping to benefit from Ford Motor Co.'s salaried layoffs.

Columbus, Indiana-based LHP Engineering Solutions is looking to double its approximately $45 million in sales over the next five to seven years as needs for embedded software, cybersecurity and functional safety services grow with autonomous vehicles. To do so, the company is almost doubling its 400-person workforce, most of whom will be hired for its Pontiac location, said Nate McCray, LHP talent acquisition director.

"Autonomous vehicles are the next best thing," McCray said. "We're looking for innovators who want to be project leaders and are team players who want to roll their sleeves up and be a part of something great."

Faced with low national unemployment, challenges obtaining foreign worker visas and competition in attracting high-level innovative tech talent, however, LHP is finding it difficult to fill its open 292 positions, preferably with workers with eight or more years of experience in its specialties.

The company already has hired several former General Motors Co. employees who were let go while the Detroit automaker underwent restructuring earlier this year. Now with Ford Motor Co. nearing the end of its effort to cut 7,000 salaried positions, LHP hopes to reap the benefits.

"We think Ford has a lot of talent to tap into," McCray said. "We'd like to take advantage of that. We're so desperate."

LHP is looking for engineers in embedded controls, engine design and diesel calibration, electric engines, functional safety, embedded software, Android mobile applications, Lidar and cameras, and cybersecurity. Salaries range from around $75,000 to $150,000 depending on experience.

Around 70% of the jobs are available in Pontiac. Other opportunities exist in its expanding Indiana headquarters, California and Mexico, where LHP also is looking to open a new location in Queretaro in conjunction with a project from a major automotive supplier, McCray said.

LHP has tried to hire engineers from Mexico, but several since January have turned down positions because of a tempestuous political climate around immigration and foreign workers, McCray said. The company also has struggled with the slow process of obtaining H-1B visas for workers from China and India. Approximately a quarter of LHP's workforce is from another country, McCray said.

"It's a sticky situation," he said. "There's a slowdown in getting visas, but we need the talent, so we're in limbo."

LHP also has a six- to eight-week corporate training program to give young engineers experience in its areas of specialty. The company has hired from the program and trains up talent for its customers such as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and Toyota Motor Corp.

The eight recruiters at LHP are using LinkedIn to reach out to prospective applicants for the company's open positions. Those interested also can go to lhpes.com or email nate.mccray@lhpes.com for more information.

bnoble@detroitnews.com

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