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Craig McEwen, Published July 25 2009

Job matchmakers: Preference Personnel

Candice Dietz has been matching people with jobs for 22 years at the Fargo employment agency she launched in November 1987.

Preference Personnel, 2600 9th Ave. S., has grown from Dietz and two former partners to 15 employees.

“We opened strictly as a direct-hire placement firm,” and expanded into the temporary-hire market in 1990, said Dietz, company president.

That’s when her husband, CEO Larry Dietz, joined the business after serving as chief financial officer of a Fargo trucking company.

Today, Preference Personnel works with a variety of clients, from first-time job holders to retired baby boomers seeking a job to supplement Social Security and declining retirement investments, he said.

Job placements run the gamut from entry-level secretaries, welders and road construction flaggers to certified public accountants, chief financial officers, engineers and information technology managers.

“We do a lot of leadership positions,” said son David Dietz, a 1995 Minnesota State University Moorhead accounting graduate, who joined the company 13 years ago.

Screening/matching

Preference Personnel gets most of its clients through referrals, Larry Dietz said.

The agency also works with government job service programs and conducts on-site presentations at area colleges and technical schools.

Preference Personnel staff members interview job applicants to assess skills, experience and work culture, and match them with an employment opportunity, he said.

“We take the time to listen to our clients and learn what theyare looking for,” Candice Dietz said. “We’re not just going to take an order and send a body out there.”

Paul Loegering, general manager of O’Day Tank and Steel in Fargo, said his company has been doing all of its hiring through Preference Personnel for three years.

“They do a good job of screening and sending us people that are pretty good,” he said.

O’Day Tank and Steel hires its welders through Preference Personnel to build steel tanks for storing all types of petroleum, vegetable oil, fertilizer and other liquids.

Preference Personnel has also supplied workers for Fargo-based Dawson Insurance.

“They are very responsive. They bring us really qualified people who fit the job description,” said Tom Dawson, company president.

Going independent

After spending 10 years as a stay-at-home mom, Dietz worked part time as an employment agency clerical employee.

After seven years and a promotion into job recruitment, she started her own business.

Dietz hung her shingle at 1351 Page Drive in Fargo after negotiating a shorter lease.

Dietz said she simply couldn’t sign the three-year contract that was offered. “We didn’t know if we would make it.”

Instead, she agreed to a one-year lease and occupied the space for nine years.

Preference Personnel moved to its current location in 1996. The company offers direct-hire and temporary hiring services.

Direct hiring involves placing an employee with a company or employer that hires Preference Personnel to screen and find workers.

Temporary hires are employed by Preference Personnel and contracted to work for, and often later hired by, a company or employer.

“A very large percentage of our temporary employees end up getting a permanent job,” said David Dietz. “Well over 50 percent.”

Job layoff affect

Recent local job layoffs have not resulted in a glut of new clients seeking work, Larry Dietz said.

That’s because most local layoffs have involved industrial workers who retain some benefits and draw unemployment in hopes of being hired back later, he said.

“There is still a lot of hesitancy by companies to hire right now,” he said, with many waiting to see if the economy rebounds.

David Dietz said he has talked to several clients who are trying to increase productivity with the same number of employees.

And there’s been an increase in the number of older workers who want to return to work.

“We have had people in the baby boomer bracket that lost their positions and are concerned if they will be able to find another one,” Larry Dietz said.

A lot of semi-retired people are now doing temporary work. Others have officially retired and want to go back to work, but only part time, he said.

“Flexibility is a word we hear more and more often,” he said. “They need to supplement their income, but they want to be flexible.”


Readers can reach Forum Business Editor Craig McEwen at (701) 241-5502