Economic growth returns to Express Employment Professionals in Olympia

Owner Reid Bates and Express Employment Professionals have moved and expanded into a new office on Harrison Avenue.
Owner Reid Bates and Express Employment Professionals have moved and expanded into a new office on Harrison Avenue. Staff photographer

Remember the Great Recession? It was a time of little to no growth, which meant employers were unwilling to add to their payrolls, making it tough on the staffing industry.

Reid Bates, who bought the Olympia and Aberdeen locations of Express Employment Professionals in 2007, said that by 2009 it was admittedly the worst of times.

But good times have returned because the economy has recovered and employers are once again in need of employees, both temporary and permanent hires.

Economic growth, too, has taken his business in new directions.

Bates has acquired the Express Employment office in Centralia and found a new home for the Olympia office.

Previously at Black Lake Boulevard and Capital Mall Drive, the Olympia office has since moved into 2,800 square feet on Harrison Avenue in space formerly occupied by Ziemek Dental Lab.

Bates bought the building and renovated it, carving out rooms for prospective hires to complete applications, take tests and to be interviewed, not to mention offices for his own staff.

Meanwhile, his three offices have placed about 400 workers and there continues to be demand for warehouse positions that pay $11 or $12 per hour, Bates said.

The Centralia and Aberdeen offices are known for placing workers in commercial positions (warehouse, industrial), while the Olympia office is half office work and half commercial placements, he said.

Bates also has tapped a new resource for permanent hires: the maritime industry.

Express has two employees — one in Seattle, the other in San Diego — who place workers in the commercial fishing industry, tug and barge positions and marine terminal operations.

The licensed medical field also is being explored, he said.

So how did Bates wind up at Express after an 18-year career with Weyerhaeuser came to an end in the Chicago area?

Bates, at one time, ran recycling plants for the wood products company, which used staffing companies to fill plant positions, so he was familiar with the staffing business.

He also learned that the need for temporary and permanent positions was considered a growth industry — the country’s workforce is graying after all — and that the Olympia and Aberdeen offices were available.

The other bonus? Washington state was one of 10 states in the country he was willing to move to, he said.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403


Express Employment Professionals

Owners: Reid and Kathy Bates

Location: The Olympia office is at 1120 Harrison Ave NW. Bates also owns the Express Employment office in Aberdeen and Centralia.

Type of business: Staffing agency, placing temporary workers and permanent hires in commercial, office and maritime jobs.

Employees: 18.


Advice to business owners: Hire well to really connect your employees to the mission of the organization. But also give them everything they need to be successful, Reid Bates said. In the case of his local Express offices, that means paying higher than average wages, he said.

Did you know? Bates also serves on the boards of Anchor Bank, United Way of Thurston County and the Thurston County Economic Development Council, where he is board president. Express Employment also was involved in finding the executive officer for Olympia Master Builders; the executive directors for the economic development councils of Grays Harbor and Pacific counties; and the chief financial officer for a shipbuilder in Port Angeles.