Spa Depot finds help, needs more workers

Morning after Olympian article, applicants lined up at door, a concerned mom told her son

rboone@theolympian.comJuly 5, 2013 

After The Spa Depot President and Chief Executive David Williams was interviewed by The Olympian last month about the challenge in finding qualified employees to fill open positions, he went home that night and had a vision for what was about to happen.

Somebody’s mother was going to read the next day’s paper, he told his wife, and that mother was going to call a son or daughter and tell them about a job opening at The Spa Depot.

That’s exactly what happened, Williams told The Olympian this week, and that person, a man in his 40s who recently returned to the Shelton area after losing a longtime job in Arkansas, starts Monday as The Spa Depot’s new warehouse manager.

The Spa Depot is a fast-growing Internet retailer that sells hot tub and spa supplies throughout the country. It also recently opened a 35,000-square-foot distribution center south of the Olympia Regional Airport.

The business has undergone some dramatic growth in recent years — sometimes doubling its business in a year — and it continues to grow at a double-digit clip.

The company even grew during the recession, but finding qualified people remained a challenge: some applicants didn’t have the right experience, while others, Williams was surprised to learn, hadn’t graduated from high school.

Williams finally reached out to The Olympian to discuss his dilemma, puzzled about the lack of qualified candidates in a county with about 250,000 people and a jobless rate around 8 percent. At the time, the business was looking to fill two positions, including the warehouse manager.

After the story appeared, not only did a mother call her son in Shelton, but dozens applied and several people rose early and lined up first thing in the morning to apply in person at The Spa Depot’s warehouse.

In addition to the warehouse manager, the business is interviewing for two other warehouse positions and has created two more positions in its customer service department, Williams said.

“Business has been very good,” he said.

The new warehouse manager, Spa Depot general manager Lain Knowles explained, used to work at a meat-packing/fast-food processing plant in the Little Rock area of Arkansas. He spent eight years there, rising from temporary employee to shipping supervisor, gaining the exact experience The Spa Depot sought: someone well-acquainted with the shipping business, a key area for an Internet-based company, Knowles said.

The Shelton man was one of six people interviewed for the job, then it was narrowed to two finalists before he got the job.

Job seekers weren’t the only people who contacted the business, Knowles said.

They also heard from the state Employment Security Department and the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce, which shared information about its efforts to place veterans in job openings.

Williams launched The Spa Depot in 1997, inspired to create the business because he was dismayed by the high cost of hot tub supplies and their inefficient distribution model. Prior to the recent wave of hiring, the business employed 22.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 rboone@theolympian.com theolympian.com/bizblog

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