"Chattanooga and the surrounding area continue to grow by leaps and bounds and we're encouraged by the way the economy continues to roll on." — Jason Leverant, president and chief operating officer for AtWork
A Knoxville-based staffing company has targeted Chattanooga for expansion as it grows its footprint across the country.
AtWork Group, one of the nation's largest and fastest growing staffing franchises with locations in about 80 U.S. cities, plans to open either a company or franchised office in Chattanooga next year as one of at least three targeted markets by the growing employment agency.
"Obviously, Chattanooga and the surrounding area continue to grow by leaps and bounds and we're encouraged by the way the economy continues to roll on," said Jason Leverant, president and chief operating officer for AtWork.
The company is planning new offices next year in Chattanooga, California and Ohio. The firm, which began in White Pine, Tennessee in the 1980s and began franchising in 1992, focuses primarily on staffing services for manufacturing, warehouse, industrial, clerical and general staffing.
AtWork has boosted its revenues by 15% this year over last, which is three times the growth pace for the overall $160 billion staffing industry. The company said it added 179 clients from the same time a year ago.
"A lot of our success comes from our franchised, locally owned model and our hyper focus on service to our clients," Leverant said. "We provide a lot of the big company services and tools, but with local franchise owners you still get that local ownership, service and relationship. Those dynamics have really helped to propel our growth."
Although the company is seeking a franchise operator for Chattanooga, the market is strong enough that the company could open its own location here if no franchisees emerge.
AtWork provides temp-to-work services, which recruit, screen and hire applicants who work briefly for AtWork before being hired by their clients, and also longer-term contracts for employers wanting longer-term workers to stay on the AtWork payroll.
AtWork facilitated 50,000 hires in 2018 and doubled its gross revenue over the past three previous years, from $164 million in 2015 to $360 million at the end of 2018.
AtWork currently has locations across 27 states the United States. An initial investment for AtWork franchises ranges from $154,000 – $231,000, according to the company's web site. AtWork plans to expand its footprint to almost 200 locations within the next five years, according to company reports.
In the current job market with Chattanooga's unemployment rate hovering at or near 3%, Leverant said the employment market is as tight as he has seen it for employers trying to fill vacancies. In October, Tennessee Career Centers posted nearly twice as many job openings as the number of persons who were counted as unemployed and still actively looking for work.
In such an environment, Leverant said companies should turn to staffing companies with expertise in recruiting, screening and training workers to fill jobs when there is a worker shortage.
Temporary staffing agencies often act as a flexible workforce and are the first to experience any economic slowdown as many employers tend to cut such temporary or contract workers first before trimming their own staff.
But even after 10 years of sustained growth in the industry since the Great Recession — the longest economic expansion in modern U.S. history — Leverant said the business continues to show significant growth.
"So far, so good and we haven't yet seen any signs of a slowdown," he said.
Contact Dave Flessner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6340.