The temporary service industry once a novelty in Lawrence is apparently here to stay.
Five years ago, Manpower Temporary Services was the only agency offering temporary services in town, supplying clients with about 4,000 hours of temporary help a week.
Now three local agencies are meeting the temporary needs of local businesses; a fourth agency provides temporary health care staffing.
Not counting employees of the health care temporary service agency, about 500 to 600 people in the city work as so-called "temps," accumulating about 8,000 hours of work each week, says Shirley Martin-Smith, who runs her own agency, ADIA Personnel Services, 1012 Mass.
"I've always been very impressed at how well the community received it," Martin-Smith said. "In the mid-'70s it was a new concept in the Midwest."
MARTIN-SMITH, who also is Lawrence's mayor, opened ADIA, an international temporary service franchise in 1988, after leaving the temporary service industry briefly to start a permanent placement business.
The other temporary service agencies in the city are Kelly Temporary Services, 901 Ky.; Manpower Temporary Services, 211 E. Eighth; and Temporary Health Employment Management, 2120 W. 25th.
Mark Rau, area manager of Manpower, is responsible for the offices in Lawrence, Topeka, Manhattan, Emporia and Ottawa.
The No. 1 reason people seek temporary employment is because they don't have a job, Rau said.
Others seeking temporary employment want supplemental income. Some are mothers with children in school. Others are college students who want summer employment, Rau said.
"WE HAVE 100 to 125 students working for us now," he said. "We had 75 students apply with us the first day school was over."
Still others are waiting to get into the military or are college graduates who don't have full-time jobs yet.
"A lot of construction people work for us in the winter months," Rau said.
In the last five years the Lawrence office has grown 400 percent in terms of the number of hours of temporary help used.
Manpower has about 300 business customers in Lawrence, who might need temporary help to fill in for employees on vacation. Their customers range from large manufacturers to small local businesses and government offices.
During the winter months, Manpower employs between 175 and 210 people, and during the summer, 300 to 400.
"It's an interesting industry and provides a lot of opportunity," Rau said.
RAU, WHO started out as a Manpower temporary himself, said that temporary work gives a lot of people the chance to try out certain careers.
"A lot of college students come out and say, `I know what I don't want to do now,'" Rau said.
Martin-Smith also started out as a temporary, working for Manpower in Topeka in 1976. A year later she opened a Lawrence Manpower office, then the city's only temporary services agency.
"When I started as a temporary it was typically people who could not find permanent jobs," Martin-Smith said. "A lot of us moms did work temporary jobs to make money for Christmas or for vacations."
The industry has moved from light industrial and clerical work to more professional jobs, deploying accountants, physicians, nurses and engineers, she said.
"SOME TEMPORARIES who are professionals help companies do special projects that could take from 30 days to a year," she said. "The industry has really grown and matured."
Martin-Smith said her company has about 80 temporary workers, although the number varies during the year.
Colleen Kozubek, manager of Kelly's Lawrence, Topeka and Emporia offices of Kelly Temporary Services, said the Kelly franchise came to Lawrence three years ago.
"We've seen a tremendous amount of growth," she said. "I don't know if that's just overall increase or if they switched to us from our competitors."
She said the usage by firms of Kelly's services has increased by 50 percent in the last two years.
KOZUBEK said her agency supplies light industry workers and office and clerical workers, as well as health care professionals for such things as in-home care, Kozubek said.
"We also provide some technical support personnel, computer programmers and graphic artists," she said.
She said the business started with about 100 to 125 temporaries on its local staff and has increased to about 250 people.
"I see the biggest increase in the business usage," she said. "A lot of companies who would not consider temporary help before are turning to temporary services as cost-efficient measures".
A company's costs are cut because it doesn't bear the expense of hiring the employee or the obligation for the employee's benefits, taxes or social security, she said.
THE NEWEST local temporary services agency is Temporary Health Employment Management, which is owned by Rosemary Helms, a 20-year veteran of the health care business.
Barbara Hesse-Weaver, who handles the company's public relations, said the local business started up a year ago with 14 people who wanted to work temporary assignments in the health care field.
Now that number has grown to nearly 600 and includes registered nurses, licensed nurses, certified medical assistants, certfied medication aides, certified nurses aides and licensed mental health technicians.
The local agency, which provides temporary medical personnel to about 130 hospitals and nursing homes in the eastern part of the state, added a Hutchison office in November and serves 64 hospital and nursing home clients in western Kansas, Hesse-Weaver said.
"All of the hospitals and nursing facilities across the continental U.S. are short-staffed," she said.
Those who come to work for the agency often want the opportunity to work in different places, are looking for supplemental income or want flexible schedules, she said.
"I just predict continued growth," she said.