Temp agency still answering calls for help

LIFELINE: Wilfred Roth, owner of Add Temps, a temporary employment agency that hires its placements until they are hired by a company it works with, speaks with France Paulino, left, office manager, and Juliana Espinal, recruiter. Roth says the business may have gone under if manufacturing was not deemed essential because it allowed Add Temps to continue placing people. / PBN PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO
LIFELINE: Wilfred Roth, owner of Add Temps, a temporary employment agency that hires its placements until they are hired by a company it works with, speaks with France Paulino, left, office manager, and Juliana Espinal, recruiter. Roth says the business may have gone under if manufacturing was not deemed essential because it allowed Add Temps to continue placing people. / PBN PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO

At least a portion of the low-skilled jobs that have been cut in the new coronavirus pandemic have been restored in other industries. WRoth Services Corp., which fills open positions for small and midsized employers in Rhode Island, has found that while some companies have all but ceased operations, others have expanded.

Initially, employee placements fell by about 40%, according to owner Wilfred Roth. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has varied, depending on the employer.

Initially, WRoth – better known as Add Temps – was placing about 30 to 40 of its employees a day at a large commercial laundry company, which provided linens for restaurants. Because the hospitality industry represented about 95% of that laundry’s customer base, the effect of the early months of the crisis was catastrophic.

“Immediately, that went to full zero,” Roth said. “Within a 14-day period, we had zero employees going there.”

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But the pandemic had a different impact on another client, a large commercial bakery. Initially, it sent all of its third-shift workers back to Add Temps, after restaurants canceled bread orders. But soon after, grocery stores and food markets dramatically increased their bread orders.

“Not only did they call us and say, ‘Hey, can we have everybody back for the third shift? [And] can we have additional employees?’ ” Roth said.

The gyrating needs of employers has been hard to predict through the public health crisis, and the economic recession that’s followed.

The company, which was founded in Pawtucket in 1989, has about 128 employees, which are on the Add Temps payroll when they are placed in a company. His workforce is down by about a third, compared with the pre-pandemic months.

Roth, who purchased the business in 2016 from its founder, keeps all of his employees until they are hired by a company.

Most of his company clients are in manufacturing or the hospitality industry, as well as light industry. He also provides surge staffing for employers who need additional people seasonally, such as around the holidays.

Because manufacturing was deemed essential when other businesses were forced to close, Roth was able to keep placing people. If not for that, Add Temps might have gone under.

“It would have been devastating,” he said. “That would have really taken it to another level and yes, it probably would have bankrupted us.”

In recent months, with increasing demand from manufacturers and the hospitality industry, he said he has more demand for workers than he can fill in many positions. Machine operators and quality assurance employees are in top demand, he said.

As startling as that seems, given the unemployment levels in Rhode Island, Roth said the federal supplement of $600 a week had a big impact. Although those funds have ended, talk that a supplement could resume has kept many people on the sidelines. He said employers are still looking for people. Most of Roth’s workers are filling low-skilled jobs that do not require prior experience.

“We initially went down to 40%,” he said of the size of his workforce. “We’re now down about 34%. If we were able to fill all the open positions we have, we would be even, if not ahead.”

OWNER: Wilfred Roth
TYPE OF BUSINESS: Staffing services
LOCATION: 17 Dexter St., Pawtucket
EMPLOYEES: 128
YEAR ESTABLISHED: 1989
ANNUAL SALES: WND

Mary MacDonald is a PBN staff writer. Contact her at Macdonald@PBN.com.

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