By Dirk Perrefort The News-Times, Danbury, Conn.
A local entrepreneur is hoping to turn a successful career in human resources into a new business helping area residents find the perfect job.
Karina Parr and her business partner, Foster Burnett, opened Express Employment Services in April along Lake Avenue Extension.
Parr, a longtime human resources professional in the hospitality industry, said she had worked with the company to fill positions and reached out to them again last year when looking for a franchise opportunity.
"I was working in Stamford at the time with Hilton and Express was one of our clients," she said. "I was always impressed with the company because it's more than just a staffing agency, its a human-services solutions provider."
While Parr, a Weston resident, had several locations to choose from when opening the business, she said a vibrant economy and varied industry base in Danbury attracted her to the area.
"The Danbury area is still growing and has lots of potential," she said.
So far, Parr said they've already developed a database of more than 200 potential candidates and have worked with a number of area companies to place both direct hire employees and temporary workers.
"With the Danbury area experiencing the lowest unemployment rate in the state, it's getting harder and harder for companies to find the kind of qualified personnel that they need," she said. "And candidates with the right skills are starting to be selective about who they work for."
Positions that are in particular need, she said, include those with specialized training including engineering, machinists for the manufacturing industry, drivers and members of the trades, including plumbing, carpenters and heating and air conditioning professionals.
"It's really a tight market right now and there is a shortage of workers in several areas," she said.
Mike Iassogna, the human resources director for Tier One, a Danbury-based machining and assembly firm, said he couldn't believe how fast Express found a candidate to fill an open position for a Computer Numeric Controlled operator, a job that involves running precision machinery.
"It's really difficult to find an experienced CNC machinist these days," he said.
Parr said she's also seen a tremendous increase in the need for temporary workers, especially from smaller companies who are trying to stay under 50 employees, the point at which federal regulations require health care and benefits packages.
"Many companies want to stay under the 50 employer level, but they need extra help during their peak periods," she said. "That's where we come in. That law has actually been a big boon for our industry."
While the temporary workers may not receive benefits through the company, Parr said they offer a benefit package to their associates who fill temporary positions.
"I love this job because it can be very rewarding to find a person just the right job," she said. "For many families, that means the ability to put food on their table."