Not a temporary gig

Blair Temporaries wins share of $50 million contract from BellSouth

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Blair Temporaries and Staffing Inc. (BTSI) was selected as the only minority-owned agency to partake of a three-year, $50 million national temporary services contract for BellSouth.

The five-year-old Silver Spring, Maryland, company is one of three agencies selected over 100 agencies to fulfill personnel needs for BellSouth in its nine-state southern region as well as its national affiliates. In 1997, BTSI grossed about $9 million in revenue and is currently servicing over $150 million in national contracts. The agency has a staff of 50 permanent full-timers in seven states and is a founding member of Minorities In The Temporary Industry (MITTI), of which Blair is president. "This was a competitively bid contract that we won from among the vendors that submitted RFPs [Requests for Proposal]," says Blair.

"One supplier simply can’t handle all of us," says Joe Crouch, a managing director for BellSouth’s corporate support. "We’d been using about 125 firms to fill in the gaps when an employee was sick or on vacation or when we had special projects. But this contract identifies three firms as our preferred vendors. And, by having Blair on board, it helps ensure that we’ll give business to minority firms." The two other agencies that won a stake in the contract are majority-owned firms Kelly Services and Norrell Inc.

In an interesting twist, Crouch says that each firm is guaranteed only as much work as it can efficiently process. "Whichever company provides the best services will get the most business," he says. "We did this to keep them on their toes and make sure they stay as sharp as they currently are."

BTSI president Shirley Blair sees that as a challenge and says she plans to go after her share of the contract–and then some. "My goal is one-third of the $50 million as a vendor, and 10% of the other two [nonminority] firms’ portion. That’s my intent," she says.

BTSI, whose national client list includes BellAtlantic, Federal Express, IBM, Frito-Lay and Time Warner, is a total resource management company. Services offered include project staffing, permanent placement, staff management and computer support services and training. Currently, by working through MITTI, Blair has placed over 1,200 temporary workers.

According to Blair, this is just another brick on the road toward achieving two significant firsts. "Our intent is to be the first minority-owned temporary agency ever to go public, and one of the first 8(a) firms. We have three years left on our five-year time line, and that’s the goal we’re working toward."