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Mining boom a bonanza for Reno staffing specialist

Rob Sabo

The mining boom has been more than kind to Reno-based Geotemps.

The mine-site staffing agency cut more paychecks in 2011 than in the two previous years combined. Another measurement: In 2011, Geotemps placed the second largest number of temporary employees at mines throughout the world in the company’s history, says Operations Director Stephanie Dmytriw.

Nevada’s booming mining industry still accounts for the majority of Geotemp’s placements, but the company has placed an increasing number of employees at mines in Alaska and abroad through Geotemps International, a sister company located in Vancouver.

The cadre of Geotemps workers are overseen by 20 office workers spread across six branch locations: Tucson; Fairbanks, Alaska; Winnemucca, Elko, Ely and Reno. The company, which provides staffing services in about 15 western states, is eyeing several expansion sites in 2012, Dmytriw says.

Over the past few years, Geotemps has seen steady growth. It has carved a niche in the mining staffing industry by providing a wide range of mine site workers who are easily transferred from one project to another. Geotemps provides mining staff ranging from clerical employees to equipment operators to underground and surface miners and mine site managers.

“Because mining is somewhat seasonal and very project-oriented, when one project ends, and that client no longer needs a specific skill set, we are able to take that skill set and move them over to another client,” Dmytriw says. “That allows us to serve multiple clients with the same kind of skill base.”

But the crux of what the company does, says President Lance Taylor, is provide mining companies with candidates for hard-to-fill managerial and technical positions such as mining engineers, geologists and geotechnicians. As the mining boom gained steam, filling those positions became much harder for Geotemps, but Dymtriw says the company benefits by recruiting nationally and internationally for high-demand technical workers.

Placement at mine sites or assay labs can last anywhere from a day to several years. The company’s tagline: Human resources for natural resources.

To help bridge the gap between mining’s graying workforce and newly graduated rookies, Geotemps often pairs the two age groups together to foster mentoring. The company also sponsors students at the University of Nevada, Reno, Mackay School of Mines to attend Geological Society of Nevada functions so that they can build a network of contacts within the industry.

“We nurture the next generation,” says Taylor. “We really believe in keeping the industry thriving.”

The local link also works in reverse, Taylor says former students from UNR have become Geotemps clients after working in the mining industry for a time. Geotemps also promotes its services at college job fairs, and is working on plans to recruit more veterans of military service to the mining industry, Taylor says.

“Returning veterans usually have a hell of a skill set, and they usually always work out,” he says.

Geotemps was founded in Reno in 1986 by Lyle Taylor. Since then the company has weathered several downturns in the mining industry, but Lance Taylor says he’s never seen a runup like the current one, which could lead Geotemps to add as many as 250 additional mining staff employees over the next few years. That growth curve will force Geotemps to become more regionalized, Dmytriw says, as well as necessitate the addition of a few more offices and staff.

“We are in a different realm with gold as high as it is,” Taylor says. “With our momentum, we definitely expect (our employment) to go further.”

In addition, the company is in the process of creating another sister organization, Geopros, for direct-placement of geotechnical professionals.