Hard Rock casino in Sioux City prepares to hire 500 workers

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City General Manager Todd Moyer is shown Tuesday in the lobby of the company’s new career center, which opens April 28. The space on the fifth floor of the MidAmerican Energy Building will be the nerve center for the company’s hiring of 500 workers over the next few months.
April 13, 2014 12:00 am • DAVE DREESZEN ddreeszen@siouxcityjournal.com(7) Comments

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How to apply

Those interested in a position at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City are encouraged to complete an online application

On the web: HardrockCasinoSiouxCity.com/Careers

On Facebook: facebook.com/HardRockCasinoSiouxCityCareers

In person: Visit the Hard Rock Career Center, which is scheduled to open April 28 on the fifth floor of the MidAmerican Energy Building, 401 Douglas St.

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Timeline: Sioux City casino

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
SIOUX CITY | There’s no shortage of people wanting to work at Woodbury County’s first land-based casino.

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City has already received about 1,500 online job applications, or nearly three for every one of the 500 positions that will be filled at the downtown gaming and entertainment venue over the next few months.

«It makes me feel good that so many people want to work here,» Hard Rock General Manager Todd Moyer said. «‘We’re going to treat people right and create a great environment for them to grow their careers and really enjoy coming to work each day.»

The flood of applications has come even though the casino has done little so far to promote the employment opportunities, other than post a handful of specific positions on its Facebook page and its website, hardrockcasinosiouxcity.com.

With construction of the $128.5 million project at least two months away from completion, hiring remains in the early stages. Only nine employees are on the payroll so far, including the general manager and directors of human resources, finance, slots, table games and security.

Moyer said the initial focus has been getting the department heads and other top managers in place. Once they’re on board, they will hire the next levels of employees, with staffing gradually ramping up until the casino opens in late summer, he said. The Hard Rock has not yet announced a specific opening date.

The nerve center of the hiring operation will be the career center Hard Rock plans to open April 28 on the fifth floor of the MidAmerican Energy Building at 501 Douglas St., where Hard Rock has its temporary offices.

Among other functions, the career center will house a school for table game dealers. A series of nine informational meetings for prospective dealers begins May 13 at the career center. The casino plans to hire about 150 dealers.

Hiring for other front-line positions, from security guards and parking valets to bartenders and waiters, will start closer to the casino’s opening, Moyer said.

The timing is tricky, Moyer said, because the the majority of Hard Rock job seekers are employed elsewhere. Casino officials do not want to ask applicants to leave those jobs until an opening date has been solidified, he said.

«We don’t want to identify people too early,» Moyer said. «On the other hand, we’re afraid if we wait too long, we can’t hire 500 people.»

The largest and most experienced pool of candidates is the 300-plus employees at the Argosy Sioux City riverboat casino. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has signaled its intent to close down the gambling boat upon the Hard Rock’s opening. But the Argosy’s parent company, Penn National Gaming Co., has filed a series of regulatory and legal challenges to keep the floating casino open and overturn the state’s decision to award a license for a land casino to the Hard Rock developer, Sioux City Entertainment, and its nonprofit partner, Missouri River Historical Development.

A number of state and local officials have expressed a desire for as many Argosy employees as possible to transition from one Sioux City casino to the other.

During an interview last week, Moyer declined to identify how many current Argosy workers have so far submitted online applications, or how much of the boat’s work force the Hard Rock anticipates absorbing.

Hard Rock officials have been reluctant to discuss the subject, citing the ongoing litigation, including Penn’s breach-of-contract lawsuit against its former partner, MRHD.

Argosy Operations Manager Zach Rosenbaum said the employees he talks to are about 50-50 in wanting to go to work for Hard Rock.

«Some are totally anti-Hard Rock, and some understand the reality of the situation and will be applying,» Rosenbaum said.

Complicating matters are retention bonuses that Argosy started offering workers when the future of the gambling boat began to look uncertain. The bonuses generally range from $500 to $2,500, depending on the type of position, Rosenbaum said. The latest bonuses are scheduled to be paid in July, right around the time the Hard Rock is expected to open.

«For some of the people who can’t move, at what point do you give up X amount of money to go to the other place?» Rosenbaum said. «It puts some people in a no-win situation.»

Rosenbaum said he eventually intends to transfer to another Penn property. Other Argosy workers also have that option, though Penn leaders are encouraging them to make the decision that’s best for them and their family.

«Anyone that wants to stay with the company, they’re going out of their way to make sure there are places for people to land,» he said.

Moyer said Hard Rock is simply looking for the best qualified people for the job, with an emphasis not only on experience but also personal traits.

«We are looking for people who are friendly, personable and outgoing,» he said. «If you have the right attitude, we can train you.»

Hard Rock’s core principals — warmly greeting guests, anticipating and meeting their needs while they visit and inviting them to return — are highlighted in a series of colorful posters with rock motifs in the career center lobby. Each poster bears the slogan, «Make Today Ridiculously Amazing.»

When it opens, the career center will be a place where people can learn more about the company, view renderings of the casinos and check out various job postings. The space also include rooms for one-on-one and group interviews.

Computers also will be on site for those without Internet access to complete online applications. The form asks for name and address, contact information, current employer, up to two preferred positions at the Hard Rock and a salary expectation.

«We’ll let you know as soon as those jobs are on our radar screen,» Moyer said. «When we’re starting to recruit for those positions, you’ll be among the first to know about it.»

The general manager said the Hard Rock will strive to make applicants feel like more than a number.

«We want to personalize the experience for each person and not let them think they’re just one of many that are applying for a job,» he said.

Though the Hard Rock has received applications from such places as Las Vegas and Florida, the vast majority are from Siouxland, he said. In its license application with the IRGC, the Hard Rock projected that 90 percent of the jobs would be filled by Iowans.

The hiring requires staffing a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week venue with a 30,000-square-foot casino floor, 850 slot machines, 20-plus tables games and multiple amenities. The latter include a 54-room hotel, a buffet, an upscale casual restaurant, beer garden, a sports-themed brew pub and grill, and retail shops.

The company projects a first-year payroll, which includes wages and benefits, of more than $20.3 million. About 100 jobs are salaried.

Under state law, Iowa casinos are required to pay 25 percent more than the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for non-casino jobs. The provision ensures the workers make at least $9.07 per hour.

As employment grows, the Hard Rock staff will move this summer from the MidAmerican Energy Building to the new offices in the renovated Battery Building. The century-old warehouse at Third and Water streets is the centerpiece of the Hard Rock development.

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