Amazon declined to address its temporary staffing provider's involvement in unemployment compensation disputes. As of July, Amazon had 2,180 workers in its Breinigsville warehouse operation, 1,937 of whom were full-time, permanent employees, Amazon spokeswoman Mary Osako said. Of the full-time workers in Breinigsville, 70 percent began as temporary employees, she said.
The company expected to add 2,000 seasonal jobs in Breinigsville this year, temporarily doubling the size of its local workforce, Osako said.
"Our operations team wanted me to pass on their thanks for the opportunity to comment and that they hope the above helps with your story," Osako said.
Integrity Staffing Solutions' relationship with Amazon goes back more than a decade. The big client has catapulted the firm from a three-person shop to an industry powerhouse. As Amazon has added warehouses throughout the country to meet growing sales demand, Integrity Staffing Solutions has recruited temporary employees to do the grunt work in Arizona, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada, Tennessee and Virginia, as well as in warehouses in Breinigsville and Hazleton.
The Wilmington, Del., company's president, CEO and co-founder Todd Bavol in 2011 won the Philadelphia region Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. At the time, he attributed his company's success to "proprietary technology" for managing large-scale projects.
In a 2009 question-and-answer piece in the Philadelphia Business Journal, he talked about driving a BMW and owning a beach house. Bavol said he hoped to boost his company's annual revenues to $300 million and create a sanctuary for abandoned animals. Wearing a navy blazer and no tie, he is pictured beside his dog Lucy, a black and white Newfoundland.
Bavol, 46, chose "competitive" as the word that best describes him, and said Amazon is the company he admires most because it is a trendsetter willing to take risks.
On the professional networking site LinkedIn, Bavol describes himself as a "visionary CEO … with a passion for making the impossible possible." Posted on the profile are accolades of Bavol from various people, including several of his employees at Integrity Staffing Solutions, his wardrobe consultant and someone who served as his sales coach.
An English major with a degree from the University of Florida, Bavol writes a workforce blog titled "HR Ninja."
In one blog post, he wrote, "At times, complaints can be difficult to hear, but they're most often the best way to ensure the company has the information it needs to make the best possible decisions for the future of the organization."
In 2011, Integrity Staffing Solutions had revenues of $265 million, up 34 percent from the previous year, making it one of the fastest-growing temporary-staffing firms in the country, according to Staffing Industry Analysts, a business research firm in Mountain View, Calif.
Most temporary industry growth is in the technology sector, said Jon Osborne, vice president of research and editorial at Staffing Industry Analysts. What makes Integrity Staffing Solutions' growth stand out, he said, is that it serves the industrial sector, a competitive and crowded field providing low-skilled workers for manual labor.
There are thousands of such companies in the country, and no dominant player. Competition is fierce because it takes little money to start a temporary-staffing business and clients pick one firm over another primarily on price.
"This company is definitely outperforming its peers," Osborne said.
Rosemarie Fritchman's experience began like that of many temporary Amazon warehouse workers. She applied for a short-term position hoping it would lead to something better.
"They were the only ones who hired me," said Fritchman, a widow. "Most people think at my age you should be retired and living on a pension. I'm still out there, and it's not that great."
Fritchman, of Walnutport, earned $12.75 per hour packing goods at the warehouse for about a month in the summer of 2011. At the time, federal regulators were investigating workers' complaints about brutal heat that made it feel hotter than 110 degrees in the warehouse some days. Several workers were taken to hospital emergency rooms and Amazon had ambulances and paramedics stationed in the parking lot on hot days that year to respond to workers suffering heat-stress.
Fritchman said she suffered heat exhaustion on Aug. 8, and warehouse medical personnel told her to leave work early after examining her.