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McDonald's aims to add at least 270 employees in Toledo area

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Timisha Butler, 16, left, gets job information about McDonald's from managers Christine Helm, center, and Abby Timperley at the restaurant in Secor Road's 3300 block during National Hiring Day. The owner plans to add about a dozen employees there this month.

The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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As thousands have done for several decades, 16-year-old Timisha Butler took her first baby steps toward her financial future Tuesday, walking into her neighborhood McDonald's Corp. restaurant in the 3300 block of Secor Road in Toledo to fill out a job application.

But unlike the hundreds of thousands of people who have taken the same steps at the start of their working lives, young Miss Butler did so on the ubiquitous 56-year-old restaurant chain's first-ever National Hiring Day, when it planned to hire 50,000 people nationwide, including at least 270 across northwest Ohio and portions of southeast Michigan.

The idea for a nationwide hiring day came last year when owner-operators in the western United States banded together to create marketing materials and share advertising to fill out their staffs at the start of their busiest time of year, explained Tim Sloan, owner of the McDonald's on Secor Road as well as the McDonald's at Holland-Sylvania Road and West Central Avenue.

The regional hiring day went so well that McDonald's opted to expand it nationwide, said Mr. Sloan, who has been with the chain in one capacity or another since 1967, and whose son, Adam, owns the McDonald's near the now-demolished Southwyck Shopping Center.

Although pay varies from restaurant to restaurant, Mr. Sloan said the only minimum-wage employees he has at his two stores are "high school kids with no experience. Everyone else starts above [minimum wage]," but most jobs start well below $10 an hour.

"The turnover [among employees] is real low, and it's been real low," said Mr. Sloan. "There are quite a few people that stick around. I've got several employees that have been here for 20 years or more."

The real purpose of the national hiring campaign, industry experts said, was to portray the fast-food chain as a good employer.

"There are worse things an economic rebound could ask than 'Welcome to McDonald's -- may I take your order please?' " Jan Fields, president of McDonald's U.S. operations, wrote in an opinion piece for the company. Fighting the "you-want-fries-with-that" jokes will be a challenge for a company whose name is often synonymous with cautionary tales about dead-end jobs. "McJob" even has a place in The Oxford English Dictionary, defined as "an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects."

The company touts how its starting jobs can grow into bigger opportunities. According to the company, 30 percent of its executives started in restaurants, as well as more than 70 percent of restaurant managers. With 14,000 U.S. restaurants, Tuesday's planned additions amount to about three or four new employees per restaurant.

Although she walked into the Toledo restaurant hoping to leave with a job, Miss Butler may not find out if she will be one of the dozen or so employees Mr. Sloan plans to hire for his Secor Road location this month. The restaurant chain is moving its hiring process online, allowing for a more standardized process than was available in years past. But that was OK with Miss Butler.

"I'm ready to make my own money, to get out on my own," she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at: lvellequette@theblade.com or 419-724-6091.

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