"We knew it was the right decision right after we interviewed them."
Owner of Canadian Tire franchise
It didn't take long for Rob Willitts to know he'd made the right business move by hiring ThirdQuarter workers.
"We knew it was the right decision right after we interviewed them," said Willitts, who owns the Canadian Tire franchise in Selkirk, MB.
"They're mature workers. They can talk maturely about work and dealing with people and dealing with situations and problem-solving."
Willitts is referring to Dwayne Bowtell and Donald Zalusky, whom he hired for part-time and casual work last fall through the ThirdQuarter national pilot project.
The pair has already had a positive impact on the business.
Bowtell started out on the parts counter, but he began sorting product on the shelves and then went into the back and re-organized the warehouse.
"So I pulled him aside one day and said, 'Dwayne, where do you get the motivation to do this?' " Willitts said.
"He said, 'Well, I found I had some free time between customers.'"
Not surprisingly, Willitts gave him a promotion.
Bowtell, 52, is now in management, helping Willitts and general manager Ryan Szuuts do a business evaluation on each section of the store.
"That's what his skill set is," Willitts said.
Indeed it is.
Bowtell worked at Aramark Canada for 26 years before retiring in 2008. He spent his last eight years as the company's national vice-president responsible for its health-care division.
Aramark provides food, beverage, cleaning and support services in areas such as healthcare, education and business.
After Bowtell retired, he finished building a cottage at the lake. He then began getting bored and thought the part-time Canadian Tire job would keep him busy.
It didn't take long before his experience made him look at the company's overall operations.
"There was a tremendous amount of opportunities that I think were being left behind that I saw as an employee on the floor," said Bowtell, who works "a perfect" 22 hours per week.
He came up with solutions for improving purchasing, helped make some labour adjustments and created new policies.
He's even done some management coaching for Willitts and Szuuts.
"It was just kind of unique to come into this organization and all of a sudden realize how many similarities there were (to Aramark) and how much I had to offer them," Bowtell said.
"It's been a totally enjoyable experience. I think there's so many guys like me out there that are just looking for something to do and they don't want to work full-time."
Zalusky can relate.
He applied for a casual position at Canadian Tire to assemble products such as bikes, snow blowers, barbecues and patio sets. He also fires up machines such as generators to ensure they're functioning properly.
It was a perfect fit for the former Manitoba Rolling Mills maintenance person, who was a specialist on hydraulic systems and equipment and retired in 2009 after 30 years on the job.
"There's a challenge in the work they present (at Canadian Tire)," Zalusky, 65, said. "I enjoy that. I enjoy working with people. I get to use skills that I've developed over the years.
"And it gets me out of the house. You kind of get tired of reading."
Willitts has other mature employees among his 73 staff and plans to seek more ThirdQuarter workers in the future.
"The older staff have the patience and have the knowledge," Willitts said.
"We get wisdom as we grow older and we can deal with issues in our store and deal with issues with the customer at a more professional level."