Seventeen-year-old Falcon High School student Ryan Valentich was tired of flipping burgers at Wendy's. "It wasn't the job for me," Valentich said. "The atmosphere wasn't good; there was a lot of drama, and I only received a 50-cent raise after working there for a year. I wanted something more physical, something different."
Valentich had previously applied at Bartlett Hay and Feed, but at the time there were no job openings. Nevertheless, it was the first place he decided to stop after his fast-food stint. "Anyone who could work at a fast-food restaurant for a year, at minimum wage, seemed like a committed person to me," said Renee Bartlett, owner of Bartlett Hay and Feed. Valentich was hired on the spot.
The switch from hamburgers to hay bales proved to be an easy transition for the young, broad-shouldered Valentich, who has worked at the local feed store for almost two years. Since then, he has learned how to stack hay, drive a delivery truck and operate a tractor. Valentich also improved his customer service skills.
"It takes discipline, some self-confidence and motivation to be a good employee," Valentich said. "I know I am doing a good job based on what I hear from customers and from my employers, which I appreciate."
The task of finding good help, however, remains a challenge for some local business owners. When Mike and Gina Casimiro, owners of the new Ciao Bella, moved to the Falcon area with plans of opening a restaurant, they were told 'good luck finding good help.'
After interviewing 100 applicants, hiring 40 and firing 20, it appeared to the Casimiros that finding good help was next to impossible. "I come from New York where everything is fast-paced, so it has been difficult finding people who can multi-task at the pace I set," said Gina in her distinctive accent. "I offer orientations and several training sessions in order to prepare my employees, but all I ask is that they leave their problems at home, come in with a smile and provide quality service for the customers."
While there are a few local businesses that require certain employees to be specialized, such as dental hygienists, almost all employers, including the Casimiros, are willing to train and provide new employees with the necessary skills to perform the job. "We are here to teach," said Tim Trout, manager of Jiffy Lube. "We'll teach anyone and everyone, as long as they have a clean record and work hard."
Considering that employers are eager to educate employees, it may be easy to fall under the assumption that all one has to do to obtain a position is to dress the part and the rest will take care of itself. Many local employers look beyond the suit and tie and try to find qualities in the applicant's character that will fulfill the employer's expectations.
"I expect responsibility and honesty from my employees," said Dick Stratford, owner of Expresso at Stratfords. "I've never fired anyone for being honest."
Employers are searching for people who possess qualities that define an individual as good help: responsible, honest, energetic, consistent, well-mannered - self starters who can take feedback and direction. The most common characteristic is personality, said Dr. Andy Royer of the Falcon Family Eye Care Center. "You can teach experience, but you can't teach personality," Royer said.