Member Profile: GTS Staffing, Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky

GTS_Helen HadlockYear business began: 1997
Jobseekers placed in 2016: 670
Sponsor organization: Goodwill Industries of Kentucky

GTS Staffing has operated for two decades, with offices in Kentucky’s two largest metropolitan areas, Louisville and Lexington. Manufacturing is an industry focus in both markets, and agricultural jobs provide seasonal employment opportunities in the rural region surrounding Lexington. GTS also supplies staff to hotels and nursing homes, and places about 20% of its candidates in its parent Goodwill’s retail stores. We spoke with GTS Staffing Manager Helen Hadlock to learn more.

How did you get into the alternative staffing business?
I’ve been with GTS for three years. Prior to that I had worked for nearly two decades in the contracted services industry, mainly managing contracts with auto manufacturing clients to maintain automated production systems, which involved using temp workers for periodic cleanings. I was drawn to GTS Staffing’s mission and appreciate its worker-centered approach. It’s so nice to work with a team that genuinely cares about our staff.

What job seeker population does GTS Staffing recruit and support?
Most of our workers are disadvantaged in some way. The most common barriers are lack of transportation and criminal records. Other candidates may lack a high school diploma or have limited English skills.

What types of support services have you found to be most critical to your workers’ success?
Our career specialists get to know our candidates and work to make the best job match based on individuals’ strengths. In Louisville, we help employees use the bus system. In addition, some employees access supportive services from our parent Goodwill, such as financial literacy classes or clothing, and we can make referrals to housing and other external services.

What types of employers does GTS Staffing serve?
Overall, our customer base tends to be smaller companies that like our mission. In Louisville, we serve manufacturers, hotels and nursing homes, and we make placements within Goodwill retail stores. The Lexington market is more rural and we serve horse farms and landscaping companies, in addition to some small manufacturers and the Goodwill stores.

What marketing messages and methods have you found to be most effective?
With prospective clients, we emphasize our mission and the opportunity our staffing services create to help people better themselves and transform their lives. Customer referrals and networking are the main ways we attract new business clients.

What kind of data management systems do you have in place?
We use Avionte which is an all-in-one software for front and back office. The job matching and reporting functions work well for us.

What challenges have you experienced in operating a staffing service?
Currently, finding qualified candidates is the biggest challenge. Communications with candidates can also be tough. We encourage our associates to call in often not only to keep their contact information up to date but to see what job opportunities we have available.

As a manager, what do you wish you had more time for?
I wish I had more time to get to know our workers. I split my time between both of our offices, so I’m on the road a fair amount of time.

What about GTS Staffing makes you most proud?
I’m proud of our role to advocate for our employees, to give them a voice and support their success!

Please share a success story about one of your workers.
Our ultimate goal is to help people convert temporary jobs to full-time work. One “ideal” outcome is a recent employee with a criminal background who was initially placed in our retail stores and did not do well in that setting. We reassigned him to a manufacturing plant and he blossomed there, learning multiple roles, converting to hire, and continuing to excel.

Another less ideal but still meaningful example is an individual with a challenging criminal record who we were able to place as a materials handler for our retail stores. While he eventually returned to prison, he sent us a letter expressing his appreciation for the opportunity to do something fulfilling and feel part of a community. Our ethos is we don’t give up on people. He experienced that and, I hope, feels more positive about himself and his future possibilities.

What are GTS Staffing’s main goals for the future?
In Lexington, we want to expand our manufacturing customer base in order to generate more year-round work and augment our seasonal horse farm and landscaping business. In Louisville, we have new contracts with nursing homes that we’re focused on fulfilling. We’ll also continue our efforts to educate employers about the need to pay higher, more competitive wage rates in the current tight labor market.

What advice would you offer to someone considering alternative staffing as an enterprise strategy in their community?
Staffing businesses take time to build. Do your research upfront to find the right market opportunity in your community. Find the hook that sets you apart from your competitors and be able to communicate and deliver on that. Stay focused and driven.

To learn more, please visit GTS Staffing on the web.

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