Member Profile: Diversified Personnel Services, Ft. Atkinson, Wisconsin

Year business began: 1988
Jobseekers placed last year: 2,200

Diversified Personnel Services (DPS) is the staffing service division of Opportunities, Inc., a Community Rehabilitation Program in southeastern Wisconsin that provides training, employment and community support services for people with disabilities and other barriers to employment. Barbara LeDuc, who established DPS in 1998, is now the president and CEO of Opportunities, Inc.

In addition to DPS, Opportunities, Inc. operates two other social enterprises that provide packaging and assembly services and custom graphic design/print services. Together, the three ventures generate over $25 million in annual revenue. Recently, DPS has added a new business line, DPSpro which focuses on making executive-level placements. We spoke with Ann Janquart, Director of Staffing for DPS to learn more.

How did you get into the alternative staffing business?
I was working in Human Resources for a large printing company, doing a combination of recruiting, hiring and staffing vendor management. While serving in that role, I had the opportunity to develop a relationship with Staffing Specialists at DPS and be introduced to Opportunities Inc.’s mission and vision. As I continued to partner with them, our professional synergy grew and I eventually took a position as Account Manager with their team. Today, 12 years later, I’m pleased to lead the entire DPS team and continue to expand our capabilities and services.

What job seeker population does DPS recruit and support?
The short answer is “everyone.” Our door is open to all, and we help candidates overcome a wide range of barriers to fulfill their employment goals.

How are participants referred to your staffing service?
Our most effective and most cost effective referral strategy is word-of-mouth. We pride ourselves on the exceptional customer service we provide to our business partners, applicants and employees. This service-focused reputation resonates with others and attracts many candidates. We also partner with key State and County workforce-related agencies to lead job seekers to our website. Given the tight labor market here, we also participate in job fairs and other community-based outreach.

What types of employers do you serve?
We mainly serve the manufacturing industry, across a variety of positions. DPSpro, our new professional staffing division, specializes in management-level staff for manufacturing firms and nonprofits. Expanding into professional-level placements will enable us to serve more displaced workers and veterans. We’re also an AbilityOne contractor with SourceAmerica.

How does DPS work with your in-house packaging and assembly business?
We collaborate with our other social enterprise divisions to provide training and transitional employment for people who need to develop skills, stamina, and a work history that will advance their employability through our staffing service. The transitional employment period tends to be approximately six months. The option for internal placement is also ideal for candidates with solid skills who are waiting for a staffing assignment. On average, 80% of our staffing positions are temp-to-hire, typically after 500 to 600 hours. Our conversion-to-hire rates are close to 60% for entry-level staff and 85% for higher-skilled positions.

What marketing messages and methods have you found to be most effective?
We market our social enterprising strategy that combines disciplined business practices with a community-focused vision. We tell prospective clients we have a “mind for business, heart for people.” Our team promotes DPS as an expert resource for education and awareness of the untapped potential in employing people with barriers. Through our KEYS TO SERVICE SUCCESS approach, we focus ongoing attention to understand our customers’ needs and tailor solutions that improve their bottom line.

What has been an innovative solution to a customer problem?
Through our Service Advancement initiatives, we’ve begun to offer more on-site services, pre-employment tours and employer videos to ensure we make ideal job matches. Most recently, we’ve added the ability to provide second and third stage interviews for a large company that was opening a new location.

We’ve also designed customized safety and orientation trainings. An example is our collaboration with Fisher Barton Specialty Products, a long-time customer that manufactures blades and other equipment for commercial mowers used in agriculture and construction. To maximize worker safety, our team met with Fisher Barton’s Safety and HR teams to analyze each job we staff and create a matrix for specific safety training needed for each position, over and above the standard requirement. The tailored training recognizes workers’ value to the overall business, which increases their proficiency and results in higher retention and productivity. This has been a very successful initiative.

What are the biggest challenges of operating a staffing service in your market?
The main challenges continue to be labor market compression and national staffing firm expansion. As the economy recovers, the labor market is increasingly tight. Many businesses are vying for the same pool of workers. Also, we find that the large staffing firms we compete with have more pricing flexibility for lower-skilled jobs, which puts us at a price disadvantage in this market segment.

As a manager, what do you wish you had more time for?
I wish I had more time, period. I continue to be energized and inspired by the mission of Opportunities, Inc. and the opportunity DPS offers to impact our business partners and our community all at the same time. My team of professional staffing associates constantly impresses me with their placement successes and business advancements, despite the challenges that come with the industry. If only there were more hours in a day!

What about DPS makes you most proud?
I am most proud of our team. They are a remarkable, dynamic group of people, and I feel privileged to work with them.

What are your ASO’s main goals for the future?
We have a few priorities at the moment. One is to grow our professional staffing division. Another is to continue to develop new business and diversify our customer base. On average, we serve about 15 to 25 customers per branch each week, and we’re working to grow that number. We’re also expanding further within the Midwest region, to better serve larger customers through ASO and other staffing partners in Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.

Please share a success story about one of your workers.
One of our workers, Brandon, applied for training through our on-site program OI WORKS. He had a troubled past, including a criminal history, which had negatively impacted his work history. He was determined to change his life and had moved from Madison to Jefferson to leave his past and make a fresh start. Throughout his employment with DPS, we provided him with extra support and guidance and set time sensitive goals to help him overcome his barriers to employment. The goals ranged from improving his reading skills to paying off traffic citations, to enhance his ability to sustain competitive employment in the future. With his newly acquired skills and positive work history at our training site, Brandon obtained a position through DPS with one of the largest manufacturers in Jefferson County!

What advice would you offer to someone considering alternative staffing as an enterprise strategy in their community?
Understand the staffing industry, know your competition, and never lose sight of your mission. Also, it’s important to take good care of your staff. We value our team and work hard to keep them happy, healthy and growing professionally. This is key to preventing burnout, which is high in the staffing industry, and it helps to ensure consistent, high-quality service.

To learn more, visit Diversified Personnel Services on the web.

Join Our Email List
Your Email Address: