The Employment Solution

Organizations need talented, innovative, energetic employees.  Employees need opportunities to join teams, use their skills, meet challenges, and grow. Yet these two parties too often never meet, due to the harrowing modern hiring process.  Job postings are drowned in rivers of e-submitted resumes, and talented individuals never get close to the people who can see their value and give them a chance.  At the same time, today’s fast-moving economy makes getting the right skills to the right place at the right time even more urgent.

In an age where staffing agencies were forecasted to become obsolete, they’re more necessary than ever.
TES is now in its 40th year as innovators and leaders in the Canadian skills marketplace, and has now been certified in Canada and the U.S. as a woman-owned Diversity Vendor.


Co-founder and President Frank A. Wilson established TES in 1975, supplying drafters, designers and engineers to clients who needed them desperately. The first office, located above a butcher shop, opened its doors in Toronto.

“It was three guys and one phone and one big table,” Wilson recalls with a grin during a recent interview with CBJ.

He and his two partners took out a $100,000 loan to get the company started. In the first year of operation, TES not only paid off the loan, but even turned a $13,000 profit.  The team’s unique approach to the business was proving out successful in the market.

“After opening our Toronto office, we decided to expand with major engineering clients,” Wilson explains. “We soon had offices operating across Central and Western Canada.”

TES thrived over the next two decades. In 1993, Wilson decided the company needed to evolve and diversify. He brought on Steve Cook, Vice President of Information Technology, to establish a new IT staffing division of TES.

“At the time, the IT staffing business was going through an amazing transformation,” Cook explains.

“Companies were growing more automated, and needed skilled IT staff to assist in the transition.”

The decision to add IT staffing solutions to TES’s repertoire of services brought another major milestone for the company. That same year, TES changed its name from ‘Temporary Engineering Services’ to ‘The Employment Solution’ to better reflect its all-encompassing approach.

The company continued to prosper despite periods of economic instability throughout Canada. Today, TES operates nine Canadian offices – four in Ontario (Toronto, Burlington, Mississauga and Ottawa), two in Quebec (Montreal – IT Division, Montreal – Engineering Division), one in Alberta (Calgary), and one in British Columbia (Vancouver).  TES also services clients in the United States through its office in Raleigh, North Carolina and it serves clients worldwide through a global network of partner agencies.

Building Relationships

TES is now one of the largest privately-owned staffing firms in Canada, and serves household-name leaders in several industries, including such as energy, information technology, financial services, telecommunications, manufacturing, and government clients at all levels. The company’s reputation stems from the long-term relationships (some spanning decades) it’s built with clients and candidates.

“We’re very much a delivery-focused organization — we believe in building long-term partnerships.

Rather than just fill requirements, we work to solve problems and meet challenges for our clients,” says Barbi Koifman, TES’s CEO.  “We’re adaptable, so they call us ‘the go-to for anything that’s not business as usual’.”

The focus on relationships extends beyond the interests of the client. TES also puts extensive time and effort in to getting to know each of its candidate job seekers.

No one knows this better than Kate O’Donnell, TES’s Communications Consultant. O’Donnell began as a candidate using TES’s services to find contract work as a technical writer before joining TES.

“TES was not my first agency,” says O’Donnell. “But they stood out. The recruiters took the time to learn what made a good technical writer and the environment we work best in. They took the time to find where I would be a good match.”

“We build teams,” comments Koifman. “Clients’ teams, and our own as well.  Several TES staff have been with us for decades. This is a tremendous point of pride for us, and a major satisfier for clients.”

Brett Lawrie, Vice President of TES’s Engineering/Technical division, agrees.  “The volume of tribal knowledge here in the areas of our experience is incredible.  And we’re selective in how we build our client list.  It keeps us focused on client priorities, and able to create productive partnerships.  That same approach applies to our candidates.  We consider ourselves to be their “career agents”.”

TES’s candidates include new graduates and new arrivals to Canada. These parties often bring the skills and passion for their vocation and industry, but struggle to gain critical entry-level work experience.
“Our recruitment group itself is extremely diverse,” notes Koifman.  “We can provide service in 18 different languages. It gives us an edge in sourcing the talent.”

A Step Ahead

Another major factor in building strong relationships is trust and transparency.

“TES was originally founded on our desire to push back against the trend for agencies to take every nickel they could get,” says Wilson.  “There needed to be respect, and people needed to feel like equal partners in the financial part of the relationship.”

As a central part of that approach, TES pioneered a “full disclosure” policy.  Contractor pay, taxes, government remittances, overhead and profit for TES: clients and candidates both got to see the full breakdown of where every dollar went.

Over time, this approach is becoming more common in the staffing industry. Likewise, TES is at the forefront of lobbying for a variety of initiatives that expand opportunities and reduce costs for contract workers.

“We take our responsibilities to our clients, our contractors and our candidates very seriously,” says Chris Lusignan, Vice President of Finance and Administration.  “We were one of the first in our industry to become compliant with the international Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition’s Code of Conduct.  It’s all about ethical business practice and environmental responsibility and the rights of individual workers.  It matched our approach, so we made the leap.”

Having evened the playing field between client, agency and contractor, TES is now exploring new dimensions in the partnership between a staffing provider and its clients.  As VP of Professional Services, Arvin Jain heads a division that carries out large-scale upgrades, expansions and technology rollouts to client technology environments:

“It’s been a great success with large IT service providers, as well as financial institutions and national retail chains.  Our teams take the load off their in-house IT support departments, and keep business running smoothly through technology transitions.  We’ve done over 5,000 client sites in a single year.”
As Koifman concludes, “At TES, we are always evolving. We’re looking at what’s next, and how we can be better. That’s the key to our success.”