News Column

From Temp Worker to Business Owner

June 23, 2014

Dennis Darrow, The Pueblo Chieftain

June 22--Renee Rodriquez sees a part of herself in every job seeker who comes through the door.

Today, Rodriquez is a leading franchise operator for staffing giant Express Employment Professionals. She owns the Pueblo office at 830 N. Main St., Suite 140, and the one at the Denver Tech Center in south Denver.

Twenty-six years ago, she was the one seeking help. She remembers landing her first temp assignment -- a two-week receptionist job at Kurt Manufacturing -- hours after her first visit to the Pueblo office she now owns.

"I had a message on my answering machine when I got home that Express had found an assignment for me. I thought that was pretty cool," she says.

Rodriquez shares her story in a new commemorative book of temp worker success stories, "Portraits of Hope," that the parent company recently published.

The book profiles 80 people from across the country helped by the staffing company, and includes articles on four other Puebloans. The article on Rodriquez is titled, "From Temp to the Top."

Now, Rodriquez is the one delivering the good news to jobs seekers. And, yes, there is good news, she says. There's work for those who are motivated and drug free, she says.

Local job openings listed by Express one day last week included lifeguard, dental assistant, machinist, executive assistant, valet parking attendant, accounting clerk and greeter.

As for why the U.S. jobless rate remains high, Rodriquez points the finger at growing government benefits. "We've made it too easy to stay at home," she says.

Her determination remains solid, though. Her motto: "I think there is a job for everyone."

Each week, the Pueblo office staffs about 280 workers at 80 companies in Pueblo County, triple the numbers of the average agency. Its services are free to job seekers. Companies pay a fee per hire.

The jobs start as temporary but can become permanent. Increasingly, companies use staffing agencies for their probationary hires, often to gauge whether they are a good fit with other workers. "If you don't fit in with the rest of the team you're not going to be successful," Rodriquez said.

Looking back on her rise from temp to owner, Rodriquez, a graduate of Central High, credits hard work, Pueblo's employers and her family for her success.

She was a single mother taking college courses and in need of a job when she first visited Express.

Her job at Kurt was followed by a one-week stint at the former BF Goodrich.

Afterward, then-Express owners Bill and Dionne Casey offered her a job in the staffing office. She rose through the ranks and eventually was invited to become a partner.

"I don't know what they saw in me or why but I owe everything to them," she says.

After the Caseys retired and sold the office, she kept working. In 2006, she and longtime boyfriend Eric Carson bought the franchise. In 2008, the pair added the south Denver office.

Today, one of her three children, Derrick Martinez, along with his wife, Diana, manages the Pueblo office.

Of Express Employment's nearly 700 offices nationally, the Pueblo office ranks in the top 45 for client count and office services. It also is one of only 118 certified to handle medical staffing.

"Pueblo has been very good to us," she says.

Rodriquez serves on the boards for the Pueblo Community College Foundation, the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce, state Workforce Development and Parkview Medical Center.

She's previously served on boards for United Way, the Latino Chamber, Neighbor-Works and Parkview Foundation.

Soon, she may put her staffing skills to another test. She's considering buying a third office in a neighboring state. A decision is expected by late summer, she says.


(c)2014 The Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, Colo.)

Visit The Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, Colo.) at

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Original headline: From temp to the top

For more stories on small businesses and entrepreneurs, please see HispanicBusiness' Entrepreneur Channel

Source: (c)2014 The Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, Colo.)