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Spherion VP tackles the job of putting people into jobs

Megg Mueller

Temporary employees are often valued for their ability to be agile, nimble and ready for anything a good explanation why ex-professional football player Brian Lytle is so good at running the northern Nevada franchise of Spherion Staffing.

Lytle has been vice president of Spherion since 2001. His parents started the franchise in 1990, and his father, Roger, is still president. He worked as a temporary employee as he was growing up, starting with his first job as a seasonal warehouse worker, and continued during high school.

After he went away to California State University, Chico, he continued working temp jobs when he came home during summers.

While Lytle worked toward a degree in business management, he played football. He played three years for Chico before the school abandoned its football program.

Lytle was sidelined for a year with a back injury, but played a final year at Humboldt State University as he finished his degree. After college, he went to training camp with the Los Angeles Rams and later found a home in the Arena Football League. He spent the last three years of his football career with the San Jose Sabercats, which won the Arena Football League championship in 2002.

Arena football is played indoors at smaller venues such as the San Jose Sharks stadium. There are eight men on the field, not 11, and field is 50 yards, not 100. Players play both sides, offense and defense. While it was incredibly taxing, Lytle loved the small league.

“It started as a nice niche league; small salaries, small owners,” he says. “Then some NFL owners came in and salaries got higher and it mostly ended up being too high for the revenue. I was long gone by that time.”

(The league today is liquidating in bankruptcy.)

Playing professional football had a been a dream for Lytle, who played the game from the fourth grade. But when he walked away in 2003, it was time.

“I was about ready to stop playing. Anyone playing that long is going to be pretty beat up. I was lucky, only had one surgery. I was one of the smaller linemen (Lytle played at 6-foot, 4-inches and 275 pounds), so it was pretty tough,” he says. “The first season after I finished playing, I missed game day, missed hanging out with the guys, but I didn’t miss practice.”

His only regret, however, is that none of his three kids were able to see him play.

Lytle and his wife Jennifer now have two daughters, age 7 and almost 3, and a son 5. The couple met at Chico State, and have been married 10 years. Lytle credits Jennifer with keeping everything running smoothly in the household with three young children. It’s too early to say if his son will have a desire to follow in his football footsteps, but Lytle is keeping an open mind.

“My son is really energetic right now. I’m not sure he’s going to like team sports but he’s really young so you never know. I hope they all will play a variety of sports. You can get really burned out on one sport,” he says.

Playing a variety of roles is something Lytle finds positive at work, too. He enjoys how the small company demands that he take on different tasks every day. His father still comes into the office almost every day, while Lytle is runs the day-to-day operations.

Still, working with a coach has worked for him before, so that value isn’t lost on him.

“It’s great to have his 20 years of experience,” he says. “If a situation comes up, he’s probably dealt with something like it before. In the day to day, he’s the strategic direction. We disagree sometimes but I always keep in mind he’s the boss.”

Bosses play a big part of Lytle’s day as he works to get people jobs. And while getting folks a paycheck is his favorite part of the job, he admits that there are some challenges.

“You can do everything right in this job; prepare the client, tell them when to show up, etc, and they can get another job the day before and just not show up. You can do everything right and it can still not work,” he says.

But that’s where Lytle feels his company really delivers for employers: “We can find another candidate the same day. It’s so much harder for a small business to start completely over.”