Magazine article Workforce

Father of the "Staffing" Industry-William Russell Kelly-Dies

Magazine article Workforce

Father of the "Staffing" Industry-William Russell Kelly-Dies

Article excerpt

ON JAN. 3, WILLIAM RUSSELL KELLY, KNOWN AS THE founder of the modern staffing industry, died at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was 92 years old.

In 1946, anticipating a post-World War II business and industrial boom, Kelly moved to Detroit and founded the Russell Kelly Office Service. The firm was a service bureau which processed overflow work from other businesses at his company's office with his own employees.

Later that year, Kelly began to send his workers out to client sites in Detroit to fill in for vacationing or sick employees and to supplement regular staff during short-term, peak workloads. What began as a favor to customers soon became a successful new business concept.

In his company's early years, when virtually all temporary employees were female secretaries, bookkeepers or office assistants, employees identified themselves proudly as "Kelly Girls." The term soon became trademarked and Kelly began to set the standards for a new industry. "The name Kelly was literally synonymous with temporary help for the early days' of the industry's formation up until the mid-'70s," says Ed Lenz, senior vice president of public affairs and general counsel of the Alexandria, Virginia-based National Association of Temporary and Staffing Service (NATSS). …

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