Staffing Franchises Seek Perfect Matches

Linn Back, affiliate owner of Westaff, has been in the business of making those perfect matches since 1984 when she started her career in the staffing industry. By 1996, she was ready to take the next step; and she purchased the local affiliate of Westaff, an international company headquartered in Walnut Creek, California. With over 300 offices throughout the world, the Westaff name, reputation and affiliate support were a good fit for Back’s talents and ambitions. In 1998, she opened a site in Owosso and, in 2006, launched a Grand Rapids office. With 10 employees overall, including son Christopher who has worked with her for eight years, Back offers a full array of staffing services.

According to Back, “Westaff can supply a business with the tools to manage every aspect of the hiring process. Whether an employer needs temporary help, temp-to-perm or a direct hire, we can find the right person. The majority of our placements are in clerical, administrative and professional staffing. But we also work with companies to fill their general labor jobs. In addition, we have a special division dedicated to administrative and clerical support in the healthcare field.

“With Michigan’s sometimes difficult economic conditions, I made the decision a few years ago to diversify. I began offering employment testing and now have over 850 validated employment tests available, including full sections of evaluations that address call centers, office support, financial, healthcare, industrial, legal and software as well as over 400 tests dedicated to technical skills. These tests are constantly being revised and updated to keep up with changing employment needs.”

Another battery of evaluations measures multiple facets of an individual’s attributes, abilities and attitudes including the job candidate’s reliability and work ethic.

She explained, “We work with both large and small businesses and organizations in offering and administering these tests, and the cost to the employer is very small. There is no cost to the potential employee.”

Westaff also provides background and employment verification for human resources departments undertaking their own employee search. These verifications include criminal checks, education and employment verification, credit checks, SSN verification, driving record checks, healthcare and financial sanction reports, reference checks and workers’ compensation reports.

In addition, Westaff offers payroll servicing and software tutorials for most of the major software packages either for employers to use for their employees or for job seekers who come to Westaff in need of refreshed or upgraded skills.

Back sees a wide variety of job seekers, all the way from the just-graduated to the older worker who finds himself or herself suddenly out of work to the person returning to work after taking time off to raise children or having taken a buyout from the previous employer.

Back pointed with pride to help business success and credited her own employees, most of whom have been with her since the beginning of her ownership of Westaff, now certified as a woman-owned business by the Michigan Women’s Business Council. Back is a contributing writer for The Greater Lansing Business Monthly on workplace issues.

Lisa Young, owner of Express Personnel, is a Michigan native and stayed true to her Michigan State University roots when she chose Lansing as the location for her business, which opened its doors in October of 2000. Previously, Lisa had worked for Dow Chemical in marketing and then completed the McDonald’s Inc. owner/operator training. Recognizing the difficulty many businesses have in finding excellent employees, she decided that her skills and interests could best be utilized in the staffing industry.

Express Services, Inc. is an internationally affiliated staffing firm with nearly 600 locations across the country specializing in evaluation and direct hire, temporary staffing, executive recruiting and human resources. Employing 350,000 people each year, Express Services, Inc. boasted combined company sales of $1.8 billion in 2006. There are currently 14 offices in Michigan.

Young chose Express for its strong support of its affiliates, its training and mentoring. Continuing education for Young and her employees is available at regional and national conferences, and ongoing assistance is available through corporate headquarters in Oklahoma City.

Five full-time employees assist Young in her mission of providing excellent service in the recruitment, placement and management of a flexible workforce. She said, “We started as a traditional temporary placement agency; we still offer those services but we have shifted to temp-to-perm and permanent placements. In addition, we offer a wide variety of human resource business solutions. With many companies, we provide long-term consulting in the areas of payroll, employee surveys and other HR tools.

“We not only find potential employees, but we are able to test and train workers so they are ready to go to work. And we provide staffing over a broad spectrum of functions: office services, professional, and industrial.”

According to Young, “It is important for us here at Express Personnel to treat everyone with dignity and respect. We try to model the same kind of service that employers who work with us expect of their potential employees. An essential part of success for a staffing agency is to build and maintain good relationships with everyone we meet.”

The office is an active supporter of community organizations like the Boys and Girls Club and Junior Achievement. For the past five years, the office has been a top sales producer for the parent company and has been awarded the Circle of Excellence Award for all five of those years.

“All of us here are very passionate about what we do and very thankful for the opportunity to serve the Lansing community,” Young added. “There’s no greater satisfaction than feeling that we have done a good job and had a positive impact on the employers and on the employees and their families.”

Author: Jane Whittington
Photography: Terri Shaver


416 N. Homer St.



Linn Back, Affiliate Owner


Express Personnel Services

643 S. Cedar St.



Lisa Young, Owner


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