Spherion Seeks Local Entry
    Into Staffing Industry


    GRAND RAPIDS — Spherion Corp. is looking for a few good franchise owners to help expand its services to the metro Grand Rapids market and fulfill the recruiting and staffing needs of employers in Allegan, Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties.

    Spherion is a national company that offers temporary, temp-to-hire and direct-hire positions; it has placed millions of people in jobs spanning virtually every industry. The company is presently entering other markets throughout the country, as well, because job trends are leaving employers competing for qualified candidates, said Roberta Marcantonio, vice president of market expansion for Fort Lauderdale-based Spherion.

    In Grand Rapids, she said, employers are already facing increasing competition for a limited number of skilled employees; there’s competition for workers in trade, transportation and utilities, as well as in professional and business services, construction, manufacturing, education and health services.

    Spherion is seeking prospective franchise owners that have some prior business, networking and sales experience, Marcantonio said.

    “A Spherion franchise owner works with businesses in the area to help them meet their work-force goals. The person has to be inquisitive, understand a lot of different businesses, and must be able to bring in the candidates to match the clients’ needs.”

    Marcantonio said Spherion will likely start with an office in the greater Grand Rapids area that would serve all four counties in the immediate region. She thinks the area could definitely support more than one office, but right now Spherion is looking for somebody to get the first office off the ground. Spherion became interested in a Grand Rapids area presence because it has current clients in the area, some of whom were being served remotely.

    “We’re a national company so we get a lot of proposals in, and we’re seeing some requests come in from the Grand Rapids area,” she said. “We want to be able to service that area more effectively. In addition, we’re certainly seeing employment trends going down in the Grand Rapids area, though it did go up slightly in July. The shortage of qualified workers is an issue nationwide, particularly in markets with low unemployment rates.”

    The national unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in August. According to the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth, the unemployment rate in the Grand Rapid-Wyoming MSA was 5.9 percent as of August, in the Holland-Grand Haven MSA it was 5 percent and in the Muskegon-Norton Shores MSA it was 6.9 percent.

    “You’re still above the national average, but with trends the way they are, it’s a good time to get into this market. The demographics of the American work force are changing — they’re more diverse — and we’re going to have fewer skilled people as more of the boomers retire.”

    Generally, what Spherion is seeing across the country is that industrial positions are harder to fill. In other areas of the country, finance and accounting people are still very much in demand, Marcantonio observed.

    Spherion’s sole job is recruiting and staffing, she pointed out. For many companies, recruiting is not a core competency. Sometimes their human resources departments are focused more on reducing health care costs and retaining current employees, she said. In cases like that, Spherion can come in and help them recruit top talent. Additionally, the company has a lot of technology that allows it to reach out to candidates from all over and makes it convenient for candidates to apply, Marcantonio said.

    “Our system is very much a holistic approach, where even though somebody is applying for one position that they may not be qualified for, the system will look at the applicant over, say, 19 different job categories and find something he is better suited for, and we’ll talk to him about that. We’re also very good at grassroots recruiting.”

    The company estimates that the initial startup of one of its franchises can cost between $57,500 and $133,200 for the necessary licenses and working capital.    

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