Long-term success from temporary workers
TIS grew by meeting customer demand for flexible workforces

Eight years ago, the plastics plant where Linda Wilkes works went through a re-structuring. The company used the opportunity to bypass its union, by outsourcing its workforce.

"Things are pretty much the same as they always were," said Wilkes, an assistant floor manager, at the West Island based shop, whose 150 workers produce a variety of home products such as laundry baskets, containers and screw boxes. "I work in the same factory and do the same job. The only difference is that I have a new employer."

That new employer is TIS Temporary Industrial Services, which specializes in what is known as employee leasing.

TIS hires, overseas and pays close to 300 employees, who work on-site at dozens of clients, including manufacturing facilities, packaging plants and white-collar offices throughout the province. These include the plastics plant that Wilkes works at, which asked not to be identified.

TIS employees are indistinguishable from its clients' regular employees, except that legally they work for TIS. The bulk of them are unskilled and semi-skilled, so they can be moved around inter-changeably to various assignments on an as-needed basis.

According to Tony Salmon, TIS's founder, and president, the system provides numerous advantages.

"Businesses today have to be flexible in order to survive," Salmon said. "By using employee leasing, they get access to the people they need, when they need them."

TIS is constantly recruiting new staff, and over the years they've built up a substantial database that covers a variety of skill-sets.

Clients are billed on a cost-plus basis, which includes the employee's hourly salary, plus benefits including payroll taxes, accumulated vacation pay, CSST payments and a small markup.

Temporary staffing is big business in Canada. According to data supplied by the Association of Canadian Search, Employment & Staffing Services (ACSESS), there were approximately 300,000 temporary workers outsourced, by more than 4,000 staffing service companies on any given day during 2002.

But critics say that the industry preys on the weak.

"That kind of shit has been around for a long time, and there's not much we can do to stop it," René Roy, secretary general, Fédération des travailleurs
et travailleuses du Québec said. "They hire the most vulnerable employees at low salaries, who can't find jobs elsewhere. There is no way you can unionize those people"

Salmon refutes those kinds of comments.

"Many of our clients work in very competitive industries," Salmon said. "And if they couldn't structure their workforces in a flexible manner, a lot of those jobs would move overseas."

Salmon's clients like seem to agree. Sac Santé Inc. leases about a dozen TIC employees during the peak September-to-December production period to fill beanbags, which are later heated and applied to patients' bodies to provide therapeutic relief.

"(Temporary workers) are a big plus, especially for a seasonal business like ours, when you only need help a few months out of the year," Jean-Francois Thiverge, the company's president said.

Salmon has been in the staffing industry almost all of his working life. He initially pursued studies at Champlain College to become a paramedic, but changed his plans when the provincial government refused to provide accreditation.

Shortly after that disappointment, he joined TIS, the business his father, Neville Salmon, who is now retired, founded five years earlier.

"Temporary staffing is growing by leaps and bounds," Salmon said. "A few years ago there were only a few listings for companies like ours in the Yellow pages. Now there are several pages worth."

TIS participated in a lot of that growth. The number of employees the company leases has risen by almost 50 per cent during that past six years, and revenues are on target to jump 10 per cent this year to about $5 million.

But competition is rife in the staffing industry and according to Salmon, some disreputable firms are resorting to using illegal aliens who are paid under-the-table so leasing firms can keep their prices down, a practice he refuses to condone.

"Everyone who works for us has their papers," he said. "It's the first thing we check."

 

Sidebar: The pros and cons of temporary workers

"They are a big plus, especially for a seasonal business like ours, when you only need help a few months out of the year."
Jean-François Thiverge, president, Sac Santé Inc.

"I do the same things I did before our jobs were contracted out. There's not that much difference"
Linda Wilkes, assistant floor manager, West Island plastic products manufacturer.

"Temporary staffing is growing by leaps and bounds. A few years ago there were only a few listings for companies like ours in the Yellow pages. Now there are several pages worth."
Tony Salmon, president TIS Temporary Industrial Services

"That kind of shit has been around for a long time and there's not much we can do to stop it. They hire the most vulnerable employees at low salaries, who can't find jobs elsewhere."
René Roy, secretary general, Front des Travailleurs du Québec

 

 

Photo caption: According to Tony Salmon, president of TIS Temporary Industrial Services, clients get numerous benefits from using temporary employees. These include more flexibility, less paperwork and fewer headaches finding qualified staff.

Fact Box:
Company Name: TIS Temporary Industrial Services
Web-site: www.tispersonnel.com
Owner: Tony Salmon
Products: Temporary manpower, employee leasing
Employees: 300
Sales: $5 million
Phone #: 514-733-2114

peter@peterdiekmeyer.com

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