Many years ago, when I was freshly out of active-duty training and transitioning to the one-weekend-a-month drill schedule of the Army National Guard, I landed a full-time job as a phlebotomist with a large blood-collection agency in the Southwest U.S.

However, aside from what I had learned in training as a combat medic (mostly CPR, combat wound care, starting IVs, etc.), I had zero real-world experience as a phlebotomist.

And that is precisely why they hired me.

They knew I had the aptitude and attitude for the position, which involved collecting blood donations from volunteer donors at blood drives, yet I hadn’t picked up any “bad habits” yet. They found me, hired me, and trained me to do the job to their (extremely stringent and highly regulated) specifications. And that, my manager at the time told me, is exactly how they liked it.

I worked there up until the day my son was born, and I had one of the lowest “short rates” (botched collections) in the company. These folks were onto something.



When I was interviewing the subjects of this issue’s Truck of the Month profile — Dan Hartsough and Richard Hart of Harts Services in Tacoma, Washington (see page 106) — they told me they take the same approach to hiring their techs, and they’re proud of it. And judging by their incredible growth over just four years, they must really know what they’re doing.

“A lot of our guys came from literally just being able to swing a hammer, or working at a restaurant, or working at a grocery store, but they wanted a career,” Hartsough says. “Rich took ‘em on and trained all of them.”

“Anybody can be trained to do the work at a high-quality level,” Hart says. “I may be talking about myself here a little bit, but it’s those of us with the background who are hard to change.”

Drive is also an important indicator of a tech’s potential success, and those who have something to prove — or provide for — are some of the best employees, Hartsough adds.

“We love taking the guys who are younger, who just had a kid, so they have some sense of responsibility. They might have a little bit of experience — their dad used to work on the house or something like that. We bring them in and teach them, from the ground up, how to be the people that we want out in the field.”

So far, so good for the company that has doubled its size every year since it opened.



So if placing classified ads or scouring the local trade schools for new hires isn’t working out for you, it might be time to strike up a conversation with the grocery store teller who gave you exemplary service with a smile, or the genuine and attentive server who sold you a slice of cake when you just swore up and down you had absolutely no room for dessert.

Not everybody is suited to work directly with customers, but if you hire for personality and train for skills, the rest might just fall into place.