Agency locates employment for job seekers

Gabriel Duran knows the impact a troubled economy can play on society.

Gabriel Duran knows the impact a troubled economy can play on society.

As branch manager for Labor Finders, a temporary employment agency in Sumner, Duran wears two hats: one as a stepping stone for individuals seeking supplemental income and the other as a contact for businesses in need of temporary workers.

“The jobs most available now are specialized skills,” he said. “Those can include skilled construction and warehouse duties – such as foreman or forklift operator; to property management and landscape maintenance; to building project clean-ups.” Other areas include carpentry, painting, moving furniture, trim work and Russian-speaking individuals for the food industry.

Duran, who joined the company in October with a background in sales, human resources and payroll, makes it his job to meet each applicant. “We meet and greet everybody because they either make or break a company,” he said. “We get the full gamut – from 18-year-olds to 60-year-olds.”

Applicants complete a packet of paperwork. When requested by employers for insurance purposes, some may include criminal background checks and driving abstracts.

“It varies according to the employer,” he said. “Sometimes they want to give them a second chance.”

Through each step of the job-seeking process, each applicant is treated with courtesy.

“They can call in at 3 p.m. to be available for the next day,” he said. “It keeps their respect and dignity by not waiting around. I know I wouldn’t want to hang out and (end up) not doing anything, then not getting paid for it. It helps me keep the good people.”

Still, there are the occasional times when employees can’t be found quickly enough.

“Sometimes, I need them yesterday,” he said with a laugh.

While unemployment numbers rise, it’s still a good time for companies to think about hiring temporary workers, he said.

“It makes sense to have a full-time employee,” he said. “But when you’re having fluctuations in your demand, it doesn’t make sense to pay for a full-time employee when you’re not producing. We can do the big warehouses but we can also serve the small pockets,” he said, referring to remodeling projects versus new construction.

Duran limits his job seeking to within a 35-mile radius and helps employees arrange car pooling or other modes of transportation when necessary. Labor Finders also covers liability insurance for on-the-job injuries as well as health insurance for its workers.

“I have a fantastic workforce,” he said. “I could send out an army of skilled workers. There’s always a trade-off – now, it’s easy to find quality workers but it takes four times the effort to place them.”

Duran said the process of seeking employment is much like going fishing.

“You’ve got to make it your job to get a job,” he said. “Call every person you know. Check Web sites and ads. It’s like going fishing – you may not catch it with one pole, so you put a lot of poles in the water.”

Until those fish are reeled in, Duran keeps his focus on the big catch.

“My favorites are the temporary (employees),” he said. “That’s what keeps me up at night because they have bills to pay. They have rent. They have their dignity. I do whatever I can to get people work,” he said.

Labor Finders is open 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and is located at 1310 Zehnder St. in Sumner, one block north of the Sumner School District Administration offices and just west of the railroad tracks.

Its Web site is www.laborfinders.com and can be reached at 253-863-0185.

Reach Judy Halone at jhalone@courierherald.com or 360-802-8210.

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