Detroit Job Agency Helps Place Diverse Candidates In Auto, Energy Fields

Chanel Stitt Detroit Free Press

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Entrepreneurs Tammy Turner and Kerry Buffington are both Detroit natives, so it was important to them to have their employment agency located in the city. As Chanel Stitt reports, "They also want to use this opportunity to assist people of color and other Detroiters with job placements."

Detroit

When Tammy Turner and Kerry Buffington met 15 years ago at a lawyers association gathering, there was no COVID-19 on the horizon. But there was a niche group of job hunters the pair wanted to serve: diverse candidates in Detroit looking for jobs in the automotive engineering and energy fields.

Through a demanding hiring season complicated by the pandemic, their Kapstone Employment Services, which was created in 2017, has assisted and supported just such people in getting hired.

The company serves anyone, including returning citizens, who may be looking to go through an employment agency to get a job from a list of the agency's clients. Kapstone's list includes DTE Energy, Walker-Miller Energy Services, Piston Automotive and Detroit Manufacturing Systems.

"So many of our clients contact us because that's exactly what they're looking for," Buffington said. "They're looking for diverse talent. And so they work with us to help them find that diverse talent."

Turner and Buffington are both Detroit natives, so it was important to them to have their business located in the city. They also want to use this opportunity to assist people of color and other Detroiters with job placements.

Turner said many candidates often come into their office surprised and refreshed to see two Black women running the agency.

"So many of our candidates that we work with are candidates of color coming from the city of Detroit," Turner said. "We wanted to make sure they saw themselves in an employer. ... That was just really important to us — that we would provide our community with a business that's representative of what our community looks like."

Business has been up and down during the pandemic, especially when plants temporarily closed down. But Buffington and Turner have found employment for up to 50 people a month. The employment agency also has grown, now serving 14 companies seeking candidates for placement. The companies pay Kapstone to receive and filter through its job candidates.

"We had some energy clients that (helped) keep our contingent staff on payroll, but just having them work from home," Turner said. "That allowed us as a business to continue to have revenue flowing in because our employees were still working from home. Our overhead costs increased because we then had to supply laptops for all those employees to work from home. But it was well worth it."

Over the next couple of years, Turner said she feels the amount of job opportunities will continue to grow.

"There are a lot of opportunities available," she said. "I do believe that those statistics will continue to rise because we still have a lot of manufacturing companies that are coming into the city, coming into the metro Detroit area. And those companies need to be staffed with employees."

Matching skill sets to jobs The company's goal is to supply candidates who have experience, but if a candidate doesn't have a certain skill set, the company directs candidates to local certification programs.

Kapstone's office is located downtown at 607 Shelby St., Suite 600. Job candidates can make an appointment to either sign up for contingent or permanent positions. There were 89 positions open recently at companies seeking candidates with required skills.

"We have recruiter friendly folks here that work with (candidates)," Buffington said. "We try to work with everybody who comes in, especially for the lesser paying jobs. Some of those folks need a little bit more help."

The company wants to guide other entrepreneurs of color who are starting their own businesses, as well. Turner, who was in the recruiting industry and attended Wayne State University, and Buffington, who was in the human resources industry and attended Central Michigan University, credit their educational background, network, experience and reputation for their success, and said many people may not have the same opportunity to get started. She advises them to not be afraid to ask for help.

"We've experienced so many struggles as a Black-owned and woman-owned business," Buffington said.

"We want to be able to help other businesses that are coming behind us not make the same mistakes that we made. We made a lot of mistakes. ... We've been successful and we were able to navigate through them, but so many people are not."

___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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