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Job seekers swamp Staples

December 05, 1996

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

HALFWAY - Winfred Winston, one of more than 2,000 people in the last four days to apply for a job at the new Staples distribution center, said he is interested in the company's good benefits and decent pay scale.

"That's important to anybody that has a family," said Winston, whose family includes a wife, two children and two grandchildren.

"They give everybody a chance to make a good honest living and live comfortable," said Winston, 38, of Hagerstown, who is now a painter's helper. "We need more better-paying jobs around here."

Staples has had an overwhelming response this week as a steady stream of people have shown up at Hagerstown Junior College's satellite campus in the Valley Mall to apply for what eventually will be about 700 jobs at the Staples distribution center off Hopewell Road that will start receiving freight in early February.

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The company will hire 120 people for the initial opening and then add about 15 to 20 people each week with the distribution center expecting to employ from 500 to 600 people by the end of 1997, said Staples Human Resources Manager Sandy Brisentine.

By the end of 1998, the $43 million center should be fully employed with about 700 workers, she said.

While Brisentine wasn't surprised by the number of applicants so far - she was expecting around 1,000 - she was thrilled they had shown up so early to apply.

On Monday morning when Brisentine arrived at the mall to set up for applications, she was greeted by about 40 people standing in the mall area waiting to apply for jobs.

Some of them had shown up as early as 5:30 a.m., she said. So Staples officials started taking applications an hour early at 8 a.m.

About a dozen interviewers were busy handling roughly 700 applicants on Monday and another 700 on Wednesday when they stayed late to take applications from people who couldn't make it in during the day, Brisentine said.

Most of the applicants have been from the Tri-State area with some from as far away as Cumberland, Md., she said.

"I've never seen a better quality of applicant coming through the door. I've been impressed with their work ethic and energy level," Brisentine said.

And the applicants have been impressed with what Staples is offering.

Starting pay for the average job is $8 an hour with some jobs starting at $7.50 or $9.50 an hour, Brisentine said. Employees will work three, 12-hour days a week, she said.

Staples is hiring shipping workers, receiving personnel, drivers, order pickers, maintenance workers, managers and supervisors.

Dawn Shank, 24, of Hagerstown, applied because she needs the extra income and better benefits as a single mother with a new car.

"There's not really a lot of job opportunities in Hagerstown," said Shank, who had been looking for a second job when she learned from a friend that Staples was hiring.

Her friend Brian Sullivan, 24, also applied because he's looking for a full-time job after recently moving to Hagerstown. There are lots of jobs open and Staples provides good starting salaries, he said.

Tony Wilson, 20, of Williamsport, likes the pay and the hours. "It gives you a lot of free time."

Staples officials will be at the mall again today to take applications and conduct interviews from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

After today, people interested in applying for a job with Staples should go to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation's Job Services office at Public Square in downtown Hagerstown.

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