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Spherion is on the move in FD

New franchise owner has growth plans

May 13, 2012
By TERRENCE DWYER, Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

Spherion Staffing, which has been part of the human resources world in the Fort Dodge for a decade, is being transformed. A new leader is at the helm.

Ann Miller, of Owatonna, Minn., has expanded her southern Minnesota-based Spherion franchise by adding 17 Iowa counties, including Webster County. She became Spherion's representative in north central Iowa on April 30. Miller now has offices in three Minnesota cities - Faribault, Mankato and Owatonna - in addition to her Iowa headquarters in Fort Dodge's Trolley Center, 900 Central Ave.

Miller has been part of the Spherion system since 1989, when she joined the company's corporate team. She became a Spherion franchise owner in 1996.

Article Photos

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Ann Miller, owner of Spherion Staffing, tries out a promotional marble game in the lobby of the office in the Trolley Center at 900 Central Ave. Miller has expanded her southern Minnesota-based franchises by adding 17 Iowa counties.

Miller's immediate goal for Fort Dodge and northern Iowa is to ensure that potential clients understand fully the specialized services and resources that have made Spherion a huge player in the staffing industry nationally. Having been established in 1946, the company was a pioneer in that field. Last year it became part of the Randstad Group, which has a presence worldwide in 43 countries.

"I think that there's room to grow image and awareness (of Spherion) in the Fort Dodge community," she said.

Miller said her Spherion franchise combines the strengths of a large company with the community-oriented, small-business perspective of local ownership.

"(Spherion is) a very strong corporate organization at the top level, but we are a community of owners," she said. "We have all the support of a great national organization, but we have the ability to make local decisions."

The Spherion advantage

Spherion helps employers fill staff positions.

"We are a recruiting and staffing company," Miller explained. "We provide service to companies in need of help finding great employees - on a temporary basis, as a temp to hire or as a direct hire. Skills (we can provide) range from the high-end professional level to administrative, accounting, customer service and we do some light industrial."

She said Spherion's direct-hire service may be less familiar to potential clients than the temporary staffing component of the business, but is becoming a very popular source of management and professional employees.

"It's a fee for recruiting and screening and finding candidates," Miller said. "We've had great success with that in southern Minnesota."

The talents of the personnel Spherion can supply to a client through its temp or temp-to-hire services are extensive and diverse.

"Ideally, I'd like our business to be maybe 50 percent clerical, 40 percent industrial and 10 percent professional," Miller said.

To be ready to address any client need, a key part of each day's activity for Miller's team is identifying and evaluating talented potential employees to meet the temporary or longer-term needs of clients.

"We're recruiting all the time," she said. "We're bringing in people five days a week. When our customers call us, they need help today or tomorrow. ... Our job is to stay ahead of the game. ... When our clients call us, hopefully, we have two or three candidates for each specific position that we can consider."

Miller stressed that having high-quality temporary employees available can be an attractive option for enterprises of all types and sizes. The flexibility of the arrangement enables them to fine tune their staffing for maximum success as their circumstances change.

"There's a real advantage to being able to put a temp on," she said. "Especially right now in the climate we are where everybody is a little bit uncertain. You can bring employees on to help get the job done, but you are not making a commitment to a full-time staff."

Miller said fluctuations in workload related to market conditions, seasonal demand and other factors are among the reasons there is a demand for temporary personnel.

Additionally, she said many companies find the temp-to-hire option an appealing way to find just the right people to fill more permanent positions.

"It might ... help find good candidates," Miller said. "Trying them out first, to see if they are a good fit for both the employee and the company."

Making sure the employees provided to clients are properly qualified is a key part of the service Spherion offers.

"We have testing available for whatever skills they have," Miller said. "Everyone comes in for a personal interview and references are checked."

The company stands behind the workers it sends out.

"I can't guarantee you what a person will do," Miller said. "I can guarantee you that we have a great system in place for recruiting and screening and finding those candidates. ... If that person fails our client for whatever reason, my guarantee is that we'll take care of it. We'll put somebody else out there - arrange for an immediate replacement."

She has a straightforward message for employers who are using other staffing services.

"It's always wise for companies when they've been using one service to take a look at what else is out there," Miller said. "I would just ask them to experience the difference. I can talk until I'm blue in the face about how great we are, but until you give me a chance to prove it, you won't believe it."

Job seekers

Becoming part of the Spherion system can be a significant advantage for job seekers. Miller said it is common for people who begin as temporary workers to at some point find a more permanent position with one of her client companies.

"Ninety-five percent of my great employees get a job with one of my clients," she said.

Miller stressed that becoming part of her pool of temporary workers can be a smart strategy for people who are on the job market because of her firm's extensive client base.

"They may have been knocking on a lot of doors," she said. "Knocking on our door is, in essence, knocking on 100 doors."

Miller is quick to add, however, that some of her company's temporary workers like the variety of moving from employer to employer or have personal reasons for choosing to work intermittently or seasonally.

"We've got some that go South in the winter," she said. "Everyone's reason for coming into a staffing service is different. We have to be sensitive to their situation."

Contact Terrence Dwyer at (515) 573-2141 or



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