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Modern hiring techniques meet old fashion customer service
Yorks General Store in Baker City find hiring success through iMatchSkills
Dennis Dorah
Dennis Dorah
“I was building sawmills and was a casualty of the environmental impacts on the timber industry. I never imagined I would be a shopkeeper…but it’s working out well for me,” says a smiling Dennis Dorrah, owner of York’s General Store in Baker City.
The business opened in 1925, but Dorrah purchased it in 1990. York’s typifies a vintage general store, offering a variety of merchandise with a modern twist including a deli, groceries, and sporting goods. The historical theme is carried out in the vintage uniforms that the employees wear and the large murals of the Oregon Trail painted on his building.
Located in an area of the state that struggles economically, it is no small feat that the doors have remained open, and the business has grown. In fact, York’s has seen double digit increases over the previous year, even during this tough recession.
What’s been the secret? Developing a strong business plan with clear goals and hiring the right people.
“There are three main qualities that an employee must have to be successful here,” says Dorrah. “First, they must be willing to work, make and effort to show up for work each day, and make certain their shift is covered in the event of illness or emergency. Second, they have to be honest. And third, they have to be a person who is capable of transitioning to each part of this business.”
Dorrah treats his employees well, paying a very fair wage. This is evidenced by the low turn over rate. “We have fun here,” says Dorrah.
Besides operating his store, Dorrah is the mayor of Baker City, which takes up a large amount of his time and is a tremendous responsibility. To help take some of the responsibilities off of his shoulders, he made the decision to hire a manager.
“I tried finding someone by word of mouth and it wasn’t working. So, I sought Linda Noble’s assistance at the Employment Department. I was impressed with iMatchSkills and the quality of candidates that were sent to me. From that pool, I found the ideal fit for my store. He (Paul Cole) is doing a great job. We just met for our annual review of the business plan and I have charged him with several responsibilities, including revamping the on-line portion of our sporting good business.”
Dorrah is concerned about the community in which he lives.
“I’m seeing people that have been my customers for years coming in to tell me that they’re leaving here to seek work.”
There are no easy answers for small business in rural areas, but Dorrah’s formula: a solid business plan, knowing his customers, hiring—and keeping—the best employees possible, is a successful one.