Building a Business in a Changing & Evolving Lancaster – TriStarr Staffing
by Scott Fiore, President of TriStarr Staffing and former Chair of the Lancaster Chamber Board
For almost 25 years, I have been business partners with Joan Paxton, the entrepreneur who founded TriStarr Staffing. We’ve seen Lancaster through a couple of recessions, a pandemic, and hundreds of other changes large and small that have made it the rapidly growing town that it is today.
Joan is now the current Chief Administrative Officer of TriStarr Staffing and has seen her business through 33 years of change. After 30 years of being “the boss” here at TriStarr, she has recently stepped back from the daily duties of president and now stays more behind the scenes on projects, mainly focusing on compliance and internal training. She noted, “I still pay close attention to our clients and how our role as their staffing partner needs to evolve to keep pace with an ever-changing workplace.”
I am the current President of TriStarr Staffing and oversee the day-to-day operations of the Staffing and Recruiting divisions of the business. I also provide consulting services to search committees for president, executive director, and other senior leadership positions. Being active day to day with a wide variety of clients who turn to TriStarr for help with staffing issues, I’ve been honored to have a unique and up-to-date pulse of the current state of the workforce. I’m tasked with continuing the success that Joan started more than 30 years ago, and they are big shoes to fill.
When Joan started TriStarr, there were many more barriers for young women entrepreneurs. “There was opportunity here,” she said, “but it was a struggle, and having your voice heard then was much more difficult than it is now. It was a challenge to develop professional relationships, get resources, and nurture our reputation. But there were local institutions then that were willing to take a risk on me, and those relationships are still strong today.” I echo what Joan shared – Lancaster is a small town; you have to prove yourself again and again and because of the size of the business community, you can’t really afford to have any major mistakes.
When TriStarr opened in 1989 we used adding machines, typewriters, and rotary phones. We didn’t even have spreadsheets to keep track of our employees – it was all done on cards. Automation has created so many efficiencies for office workers since then. When search engines became popular there was fear that it would replace a staffing service – the same with job boards and the internet. Technology changes, and the overall industry had to pivot and figure out how to manage it. But Joan enjoyed the challenges, noting that “changes are what keeps it fun. Every 5-10 years something pops up that makes us reconsider our entire business model and how we work with our clients and associates.”
One of the incredible aspects of our community is that businesses in Lancaster are loyal to those that they work with. It’s an extremely close-knit area and business owners want to work with people they know, are familiar with, and ultimately who they trust. Lancaster has a large number of businesses diverse in size and scope and because of this, the economy remains fairly stable. TriStarr has done business with some of the largest employers in the county, and some of the smallest, but they all have the same desire for results and quality of service, which TriStarr provides. We consistently rate very high in our customer service scores, both for our clients and employees. This is what built our business and what will allow us to remain competitive as things change. Business here in Lancaster have really high expectations – you can’t compete here without delivering. It’s why I love doing business here. We earn our chops every day.’’
Companies also look at the services TriStarr provides in a different way now. They used to be a company that simply provided someone to fill in for an absence; somebody was out on medical leave, or sick, or had found a new position. Now TriStarr works with our partners in a much more strategic way and have so many more employees who are longer term and not just a stop gap for a few days or weeks. We’ve been able to provide a robust benefit package for those employees as well, so that it makes sense for them to continue as long-term employees of TriStarr.
Growth in population and the business climate are the biggest changes I’ve seen in Lancaster since starting at TriStarr. Back then, the manufacturing sector was the largest employer and downtown was nowhere near as vibrant as it is today. I’m very excited to see the diversity of Lancaster City and County improve – we are all better when we experience viewpoints different than our own. With change comes opportunity, are there is an abundance of opportunity here in our County to grow, transform, and adapt even more.
Joan has shared her excitement regarding the young people that are staying here. “Lancaster has become a better place to live, a better place to learn, and a better place to create, and those components help make it a better place to work as well,’’ shared Joan. “Companies change and make change because of the young people, and those that are staying here give me hope. There is always work to be done and we can always do better, but the younger generation driving the change makes the future look very bright.” I agree—experiencing the influx of young entrepreneurs making Lancaster County their home will only strengthen the future workforce and community.
One of the most inspiring parts of staffing is seeing where individuals end up next. The system Joan build encourages this growth. She shared that TriStarr has clients that were once TriStarr temporary employees or worked directly for TriStarr at one point. The company can be a crucial steppingstone for people to move onto other jobs and be a wonderful transitionary opportunity. We have sent out an incredible workforce of employees, who bring the skills they learned and honed at TriStarr and are able to give them back to the Lancaster community daily. It’s very cool to be a small part of so many different businesses and to be involved and help the community in so many different ways.
As far as the outlook for the future, it’s apparent that technology will be a major driver of change in our business. How we work with our employees and clients will look different – our success will depend on how well we manage that, and I intend to do it well. Recruiting and retention are and will continue to change rapidly. Companies that remain successful will be those that embrace change – employers who allow for the most flexible workplaces will attract the best talent. Even more important will be whether or not companies truly embrace diversity. I really believe that those companies that do not create and implement real plans to diversify their workplace will be the ones left behind.
Whether at TriStarr or at other companies, adaptability is crucial in a shifting and expansive business landscape. With many unknowns about what’s next, it’s important to evaluate your processes, your systems, and your goals to ensure you’re aligned with the current needs.
“Unexpected” is the word that Joan shared in describing her journey thus far. So much has changed since TriStarr opened but what has remained throughout are passionate individuals striving to better their community for themselves and others.
We hope that you, in your own company or organization, will also channel a passion for people as we forge new paths into the future and make Lancaster County a sustainable, successful community full of growth and transformation.
The Lancaster Chamber is proud to be celebrating its 150th Anniversary this year, alongside our business and education communities. In the month of August, our content theme will be focused on business-education partnerships – sharing stories of our businesses and education leaders contributing to a thriving workforce pipeline. This article was first printed in our 150th Commemorative Edition of Thriving Magazine, you can read more here: 150th Commemorative Edition of Thriving Magazine