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Q&A: Johnny Fokakis, owner Hub City Employment Inc. Hattiesburg

A brisk business

Fokakis has no shortage of folks looking for jobs

With record numbers of unemployed workers searching for jobs across the nation, employment agencies are doing a brisk business.  Hub City Employment owner Johnny Fokakis recently sat down with the Mississippi Business Journal to discuss the employment agency industry and the role it plays in connecting people to jobs.

Q —  How specifically has the poor economy and high unemployment figures affected employment agencies such as yours?

A —  Obviously, the high unemployment rate has brought many applicants into our office looking for work, applicants that range in all categories and levels of employment from all over the country.  Some have relocated to this area from other places where salary ranges are higher. It makes it extremely difficult to place them in other jobs because employers look at their salary needs and immediately think that this person will not stay and will eventually leave for a better paying job. Presently, the job market is extra tight because employers are not ready to trust the economy and hire new or extra employees – many have put hiring freezes into place, although they need more help in their organization.

Q —  Hub City Employment has served the Hattiesburg area since 1996.  What major changes or trends, if any, have you seen in the industry in the last 13 years?

A —  The major changes we have seen here in this area is the mind set of employers who at one time would never pay a placement fee to the agency are now paying all or assisting with the fee in some manner.  This is due to temporary agencies that have entered the market.  Hub City Employment can still be a free service to employers because many of our applicants are willing to invest in their future and pay the placement fee.  They are very appreciative of the employer that will assist them in some way.

Q —  What services does the agency provide for the job seeker and the companies that contract with you for viable applicants?

A —  Hub City specializes in full- and part-time permanent employment.  We also accommodate employers’ needs with temporary or temp to hire if needed.  In addition, we also have a pay rolling service to employers which lets an employer who is wanting to hire a new employee to put them on our payroll.  They can use this service to take this new employee for a “test drive,” so to speak.  We pay the insurance, taxes, workmen’s comp, etc and carry all the risk until the employer is ready to put the person on their payroll.  Hub City has many loyal employer customers that use our service because we can service their needs in all ways.  They also know we are going to send only the top qualified applicants to the appointed job interview.  When employers advertise for job openings they will get dozens of resumes that are a waste of time – our service eliminates that wasted time.  Often, employers need to keep the job opportunity confidential, so we provide a private office for employers to use for interview purposes.  They sometimes don’t want an applicant showing up at their place of business and compromise confidentiality.

Q —  Does Hub City specialize in particular employments or do you offer a variety of positions from manual labor to the executive level?

A —   Applicants that are looking for work can apply with our service and we are open to any type of employment needs.  We don’t usually deal with construction or industrial-type labor because there are too many layoffs in these types of employment.  We provide opportunities that the applicant can count on being a permanent job.  No one feels likes to feel that they might be laid off at any time – we stay away from those types of positions for our applicants.

Q —  What is the forecast for the job market in the state for 2010 and beyond?

A —    I wish I had a crystal ball and could tell the future of the job market and unemployment to come, but if I did have, I wouldn’t be in the employment business.  I think we are still in hard times and it will continue for a while but we will eventually pull out of this period.

Q —  What can be done at the state level to increase the number of opportunities for unemployed workers to secure a job?

A —   I really don’t want to get into the question of what state government should do.  I just think the government needs to open up the ‘shovel ready’ jobs that we all have been hearing about and start handing out jobs instead of handing out money.  Jobs will keep money in circulation and help new business owners create jobs.  We will all be better off then.

Age: 59
Hometown: Hattiesburg
Degree(s): Pensacola Junior College
Clubs or Societies participated in during college: Omicron Delta Kappa; Student Senate
Hobbies/Interests: Hunting, fishing, traveling with family
Favorite Movie: “The Count of Monte Cristo”
Person who inspired you the most: There is no one person who inspires me — I get inspiration from many successful intellectuals.


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