If it hasn’t been made evident by now, we love people here at AAT! We love hearing about their stories and passions for our community, but we also love hearing about what our fellow locals do and why they do it! For example, we have some wonderful neighbors who own/manager some fantastic local businesses and serve our town tremendously by doing so! This fact is why AAT has partnered up with our good friends at B3 Glass, to bring you all “Small Business Fridays!” Each week, we’ll feature a different, local small business and talk with its owner and hear about their journey, their business in general, as well as their heart for their customers and our city!
This week, we’re joined by Libby Knudsen. Libby currently works as the manager at American Staffing Inc. a temporary service agency which works hard at integrating great people with great companies!
Was it always Libby’s dream to work in this field? No; it was not. However, as you’re about to read, sometimes our best-laid plans don’t always pan out, and that can be fine. Libby is about to show us how when one path seems to become a dead end, another, joy-filled, path can open up. Take it away, Libby!
“I was born and raised in Elko; I graduated from Elko High. I ended up going to college in Rexburg, Idaho, where I majored and graduated in elementary education. I was going to be a teacher; being an elementary education teacher was my dream. I did my student teaching in Las Vegas for a few months while also applying for jobs. I wasn’t getting any bites for anything! So, I planned to move back home (Elko) to continue to look for jobs and sub. I had a friend who lived in Provo, Utah, who taught at a charter school. They had a teacher there who was having a baby and needed somebody to take over their classroom. I interviewed with the principal, and they told me they wanted me to take over the classroom for the remainder of the year and then be their teacher afterward. However, three weeks before Summer, the principal came and told me they had another teacher with more experience come in, and they thought she would be a better fit for the class.”
“I was back to square one looking for teaching positions. It was Summer, and I didn’t have a job, so I went to a temp service in Utah. Once the school year hit again, I started back subbing, but they didn’t pay very well in Provo, and I wasn’t making enough money to pay bills. My roommate, at the time, was working at a warehouse; she told me they had an opening, so I ended up working there while I continued applying for teaching jobs. I got an interview at a charter school in Tooele, Utah; it was kind of a strange. You couldn’t personalize anything, even your classroom decorations. Everything had to be done in a very specific way; it reminded me of a military type setting. They still ended up offering me the position, but I didn’t feel right about it, so I turned it down.”
“I ended up moving back to Elko and subbed until Summer came around. I didn’t know if I wanted to take jobs that would require me to stay in Elko, just in case, a teaching position opened somewhere else, so I applied at the different temp services here in town. I came in here (American Staffing) and went through the orientation and everything. One of the guys, who was working as a staffing coordinator, was about to move up into a marketing representative position, so he called me and asked if I wanted to interview for his position. I came in, interviewed, and they offered it to me! I worked my way up to the assistant manager position, and now I’m the manager. In August I will have been here for eight years! The teaching kind of went away, and I really enjoy doing this!”
Thank you for sharing your story, Libby. We’ll get back to talking about you in a second. For now, can you share a little bit about American Staffing? What exactly does your company do, and how do other businesses respond when they hear the term “temp agency?”
“I think businesses are put off by staffing services because they don’t quite understand them. As a staffing agency, we cover payroll taxes, workers comp, and unemployment. We do “temp to hire” positions where a client calls us and tells us what jobs they need to have filled. We set up “temp work,” which is like the day laborer type jobs. Lastly, we have “payroll only” clients who are businesses with somebody they are interested in hiring, but they want to try them out without actually putting them on their payroll. We do all their payroll and worry about all that for them, and if they end up liking the person, then they’ll take them on, officially. American Staffing can work a little different from other temp agencies because when people come in, we have them fill out our application right then and there. Then, we interview them right after that so can get to know them one-on-one basis.”
Libby, you explained how your dream was to be a teacher, but that didn’t come to fruition. However, now, you’re in this wonderful position you probably didn’t ever plan on having when you were growing up. Although this wasn’t, perhaps, your childhood dream, do you still find fulfillment in your work?
“I do! The fulfillment comes from finding people those jobs. You can’t always find everyone who comes in a job, but when you do get to help people, again, it’s very fulfilling. I also get to meet a lot of different people! I’ve met some amazing people from all over. You get to become friends with the people who come in and know them on a personal basis.”
That’s a fantastic attitude to have, Libby! What was the most significant thing you had to overcome when you first started managing American Staffing?
“When I first started, I was kind of a people pleaser. I wanted to give everyone a job. My manager before me taught me that not everyone is a fit for every specific job. I do want to help everyone who comes through the door, but I had to get to the point where I realized I couldn’t let people take advantage of me. I had to learn how to stand up for myself, especially being a woman in this position because there are people who will treat you differently because of that.”
Libby, you mentioned earlier that you grew up here in Elko but have also traveled a bit for work and school. What are your overall thoughts on the community after all this time?
“I think we’re a really close-knit community. Working with different companies within the area, I’ve found that most of them do want to help people. It’s amazing to see what the people are willing to do for others here. People do want to see others succeed and do the best they can. Having lived in Utah and Las Vegas, I think it’s better to be someplace where people are dependable and trustworthy compared to somewhere where people can become just another face.”
Well, Libby, thank you for joining us this week. I’m sure many people are happy you’re in your position at American Staffing, especially all the men and women you’ve helped over the years. Do you think you’ll ever go back to pursuing a career in teaching, and what would you say to someone whose life also led them to a place or job that was not in their plans?
“I don’t think I’ll pursue teaching again. I still have dreams and goals, and I’ll keep striving for them, but life takes you down different paths sometimes. You may have dreams when you’re younger, but dreams can change, and that’s okay; mine did! Just don’t stop!”
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See you around, Elko!