Midtown got a boost last year when it won a piece of a $35 million deal with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide contract employees over the next five years.
A trick to Midtown’s success is keeping those part-timers in their temporary jobs and out of the unemployment line. For example, if a federal agency lays off the contract employees, Midtown could be on the hook for paying that employee’s weekly unemployment check, which could be up to $369 a week for 26 weeks.
“You can lose your entire profit made on the contract if an employee picks up the unemployment for the entire six months,” Moreau said.
The way to avoid that is to have multi-skilled, motivated employees who can seamlessly transition from one job to another.
Moreau grew up in leafy Westport, Conn., the daughter of the town’s police chief. She attended the University of Florida, where she studied public relations and business.
She moved to the Washington area after graduation to live with her mother and stepfather in Rockville. When the congressman she was working for left office, she walked into a job placement office at 17th and I streets NW in downtown Washington to find a new gig.
But instead of placing her in a job, the employment agency hired her.
After the talking to by the boss, she caught on fire.
“I would work after hours and on weekends, speaking with candidates from home and meeting for lunches and coffees,” she said. “I would make hash marks on a piece of paper and make over 100 calls a day.”
For every 100 calls to employers, she would get four interviews for her job candidates. Then she almost always placed at least one of the four in a job.
“The numbers work like a science,” she said.
Midtown started in September 1989 and finished the next year with $170,000 in revenue. Revenue crawled along at a 10 percent growth rate, until a key hire persuaded Moreau to jump into the temporary employment business.
“That was our ‘aha’ moment,” she said. The temp work took off, and revenue grew to $13 million in 2008. The income dropped 20 percent during the recession, but it has rebounded, largely because of the growth in the local legal industry and the new contract job with HHS.
The company, which has no debt, should earn several million in profit this year, some of which will go to Moreau. The rest will cover operations, new hires, technology purchases and working capital. Midtown pays for health care, and it offers a 401k retirement plan and profit sharing of up to 4 percent of salary.
Before we ended our conversation, I had to ask Moreau one more thing: Where did you get the guts as a 23-year-old to start your own business?
“He was the youngest chief of police in the state of Connecticut, and he taught me early on that embracing leadership at a young age was not to be feared, but embraced.”
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