By Tracy Shevlin | Photos by Robert Jinks
When Temporary Solutions, Inc. opened in 1980, it was a transitional point in the lives of both Lovey Hammel and her mother, Jana Yeates. At the time, Hammel was a young mother, and her mom was being downsized after a career with the phone company.
Together, they decided to partner and open a temporary staffing company. From humble beginnings renting a Sunday schoolroom as office space, the company has grown into a nationwide provider of workforce solutions that reach all 50 states. Now operating under the parent company Employment Enterprises, Inc., the company has expanded to include Checks and Balances, Inc. and other joint ventures.
PWL: You told us about starting the business with both of you working three days a week. Starting in that manner,
how did you manage to grow the business so successfully?
Hammel: We were very fortunate that about six months into our business, we became involved with a mentoring program with IBM that focused on women-owned businesses. It was our first involvement in “big business” and it was a Fortune 100 company. It gave us a new understanding of corporate expectations and professionalism and was an invaluable experience.
PWL: How important was education to your success?
Hammel: It was clear to me that I would need an education to be successful so I returned to school as a non-traditional student and attained a business degree from George Mason. I was a businesswoman-by-day, student-by- night and wife and mother on the weekends. My husband was very supportive of my returning to school in spite of the time commitment.
PWL: It’s now more than 30 years later; how has the staffing industry changed?
Hammel: We have expanded our companies to allow us to work in different states and our companies have evolved to help people with any sort of contingent staffing needs. Today, positions are more project-oriented and people can work virtually from anywhere at anytime.
Our employees come from all phases of their career, whether it’s to build their resume or work between permanent positions. Further, some of our employees have already had the bulk of their career elsewhere but are not yet ready to retire. Some positions are short-term positions without benefits, but others are longer term with benefits and people will move from project to project.
PWL: Working with family can be an interesting dynamic and especially so with a mother and daughter. How did you
handle the family dynamic and partnership issues?
Hammel: There are both pros and cons to this sort of arrangement, but my mother and I worked together for 30 years growing the company. On the pro side, you know that you can rely on your family and you know who you are dealing with. On the con side, it’s hard to escape business discussions and just enjoy family time.
In the early days, we didn’t advertise the fact that we were mother and daughter. I called her Jana and we made a point to keep the relationship professional in the office. Many of our clients and employees did not know that we were related. Our agreement to keep the relationship professional was a help to our partnership as well. For example, in the office, I needed her opinion and approval as a partner, not as a parent, and vice versa.
Additionally, we made a pact that if we disagreed on an issue and one of us felt strongly opposed, the idea would be tabled. It was a trump card that eliminated major conflicts and one that we did not have to use often.
We are proud that we have managed to be good role models for woman-owned businesses and other mother and daughter teams. Father and son teams are more common, but mother and daughter teams can be successful. Think of Naomi and Wynonna Judd, or Joan and Melissa Rivers.
PWL: What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your job?
Hammel: Managing people is both the most challenging and most rewarding part of my job. When your brand is powered by people, it can be stressful. Everyone comes to the company with different needs and expectations and everyone needs to take their downtime to stay refreshed and creative.
It is very rewarding to know that we have positively impacted many of the lives of people who have worked for our company. Whether it is in helping people build job skills or helping by career counseling, it’s a tremendous feeling.
Now I’m blessed with another generational experience with three grandchildren. I see dynamic changes ahead in social media and global workplace issues, so being in the people business, we will always be evolving. My job is to change with the times.
Tracy Shevlin is a native Virginian and long-time Manassas area resident. She is a full-time administrative assistant and part-time student at George Mason University completing her degree in Business Communication. She can be reached at [email protected] princewilliamliving.com.