Keith Stevens, CEO of Team 2000 Staffing Services, tells his managers to go out and find workers instead of waiting for them to come in.
The Inner City 100
Employment agency, staff thyself. That's the challenge for Team 2000 Staffing Services (#62), which on an average day deploys 400 to 600 workers in distribution centers and light manufacturing companies around Columbus, Ohio. Faced with formidable competition and a local unemployment rate hovering below 3%, CEO Keith Stevens decided the best way to find workers was to make like Mohammed and go to the mountain. In a Winnebago.
Stevens bought his Winnebago for $4,000 from the Columbus school board, which had been using it as a mobile classroom. Having outfitted the beast with a generator, computers, and phones, the CEO bade his managers to go forth in search of able-bodied labor. "We'll just pull up on the street or in a parking lot," says Stevens. "We'll give away free food or sports bottles. And we'll take applications."
Applicants for clerical jobs can take a proficiency test right in the Winnebago, using software set up on one of the computers. For jobs that don't require background checks, placement is sometimes immediate: workers climb out of the Winnebago and into a Team 2000 van parked nearby, and from there they are whisked to a job site. On a recent foray the company signed up 35 people; 20 had jobs the next day.
Stevens estimates that his RV (recruitment vehicle) reached out to about 5% of Columbus's available labor pool in 2000. The Winnebago still makes monthly scouting trips, and a Team 2000 employee drives it around town once a week "to raise our visibility," says Stevens. And risen it has: the Winnebago has become so well known that it now makes command performances. "We'll get a call from an apartment complex with a lot of low-income people," says Stevens. "They'll ask if we can drive on over and give them some of our time."
LEIGH BUCHANAN is an editor at large for Inc. magazine. A former editor at Harvard Business Review and founding editor of WebMaster magazine, she writes regular columns on leadership and workplace culture. @LeighEBuchanan