For Country And Customers
Veteran-Owner Takes Service to a New Level LaborMax Staffing
Stay in the fight. Never give up on your dreams.
Kelley “Hutch” Hutchinson adopted these principles back when he was a soldier in the U.S. Army’s special operations light infantry unit. This former Army Ranger is a Co-Owner of LaborMax Staffing, an employment agency that provides part-time, full-time and temp-to-hire personnel for employers within a variety of industries. Armed with a new mission in life, his sights are set on putting people back to work—helping them realize their dreams of success and fulfillment in the workplace.
Founded in 2002, the company began with just one office in Las Vegas. Now, it has grown to more than 70 branches in 24 states. Kelley credits his achievements as an entrepreneur to the life lessons he learned during his military career—and the unbreakable spirit he developed to reach his personal dreams and goals.
From the Battlefield to Business
Kelley served in the ACO 2nd Ranger Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment from 1993 to 2001. The journey leading up to earning his Ranger Tab and Scroll was grueling. “The selection process to go into the Ranger Battalion, combined with basic training, takes about nine months. People are constantly telling you ‘You can’t do it! You are not going to make it, give up.’ And pushing through that teaches you to never give up, to fight for your dreams and goals. You figure out who you truly are as a person by refusing to allow anyone to break you. And I’ve got to say that’s the biggest thing in business that helps me—I refuse to allow people to break me,” he says.
Later, injuries ultimately caused him to leave the service. “I injured my back on a training mission, which resulted in giving me two options: I could either leave the Rangers and live a less active role in the Army, or I could rejoin the civilian world,” he says.
Initially, the transition from the military to the civilian workforce was difficult. “I suffered from quite a bit of depression after leaving my close-knit Rangers unit and going to the civilian workforce where, in my opinion at the time, people only care about themselves and not about the person next to them. The reality is once you leave a group like the Rangers, which is built on synergy and cohesiveness, you lose that constant support and protection from your team. The Veterans Affairs hospitals and counselors were and still are a great resource, and with their help I realized that I am still part of a team—I just needed to adapt to my new environment,” shares Kelley.
He understood that communicating with people outside of the military was different and he would need to learn a new set of people skills. Thus, he used his ingrained Ranger traits to adapt and overcome, using a Dale Carnegie course and self-help books as his new life’s basic training to bridge the gap.
After working several temp jobs, Kelley interviewed at a staffing agency. There he met a veteran also from the 2nd Ranger Battalion, who understood the difficulty of Kelley’s journey. Once hired, Kelley found a new community in the staffing industry. After 10 years of hard work—learning and excelling as a branch manager for two years, then as a district manager for eight years—he felt prepared to jump into the next level of his career: ownership.
Leading is the LaborMax Way
In a 2014 Forbes magazine article, former Navy Seal Brent Gleeson stated, “Entrepreneurship is a natural transition from military life, especially for those emerging from the elite sectors. The leadership qualities, integrity and motivation that are instilled in a soldier from day one lend well to the world of entrepreneurship.” This sentiment certainly applies to Kelley, who at LaborMax Staffing has joined forces with an elite team of other owner-entrepreneurs, most of whom are veterans.
Kelley describes LaborMax’s impressive network of companies as individually owned small businesses with a national footprint. “There is no big CEO or board of directors. I don’t have to go to a committee to decide on something. And I meet with all my customers,” he says.
He started out with one store in Virginia, and now has a total of eight stores across three states—Virginia, Washington and Alaska.
How was he able to grow the business in only six years and have branches across the country? Three key reasons stand out among all the rest: teamwork, a focus on customer service, and leading by example.
Kelley says he could not have accomplished his business achievements without the team of people he assembled. Just like in the Rangers, he recognizes that not everyone has the same skill set. He works to identify and develop his employees’ strengths to help them overcome areas of weakness and improve their capabilities. “I welcome anyone through my branch doors no matter that person’s race, sex, age or education. Their work histories and backgrounds are important; however, what is most important to me are their skill sets, talents, passions, and where they would like to go from here,” he says.
“You figure out who you truly are as a person by refusing to allow anyone to break you. And I’ve got to say that’s the biggest thing in business that helps me—I refuse to allow people to break me.” Kelley Hutchinson, Co-Owner, LaborMax Staffing
For the LaborMax team, connecting people together starts with always being available to deliver personable customer service. “I say it all the time to my customers, ‘You call, we haul,’ ” Kelley adds. “A live person answers our phones during business hours, not an automated answering service.” This level of customer service is not something this owner simply talks about—he provides it personally. “ ‘Rangers lead the way’ is part of the Ranger Creed. And I’ve taken that idea and applied it to my business practices—LaborMax leads the way.”
From the early days of his company through today, Kelley has gone to the front lines of the business. A few months ago, when he and his District Manager, Michael Genzale, were visiting a job site, they found out one of their employees assigned to the job could not make it to the site. Once they became aware of the situation, instead of trying to arrange for another employee to be dispatched, Kelley and his district manager rolled up their sleeves and helped unload a 53-foot trailer of Styrofoam. Thus, Kelley’s “do what it takes to get the job done” actions not only set the example for his employees but also shows customers that serving their needs is a high priority – from the top down.
People are More than a Product
In the staffing industry, people are the product. But for Kelley, those they employ represent so much more. He sees individuals in need. Fathers, mothers, sons and daughters with complex lives worth fighting for. Kelley knows firsthand what it is like to transition from a tough life change, and is proud that his company employs people from diverse backgrounds with a variety of life experiences and challenges.
“I thought that staffing was a great outlet for me from the very beginning. I realized there are other people with real-world challenges like myself,” Kelley explains. He’s had many conversations with temporary workers about not letting life circumstances determine their futures. “That’s one of the great things I love about staffing—we don’t judge you.”