Mitchell Fromstein, chairman emeritus of ManpowerGroup, died this past weekend and I had to pause. This is a picture of him and me that I have on my desk. Here’s the story behind that picture:
The Arizona office of Manpower won the Honeywell account, making it on the largest local account in the country in 1995. We knew it would be a challenge filling hundreds of technical jobs because we had only started the technical division a year prior and actually had no database of candidates. Long story short, we filled hundreds of engineering and technical lead positions thanks to a wildly enthusiastic staff and word getting out to corporate in Milwaukee that there were software and electrical engineers working for Manpower.
Mitchell happened to be speaking at an event in Scottsdale around that time and asked me if I could show him around Honeywell, to see what these “Manpower employees” were actually doing. I met him at the Princess Hotel and we went to the Industrial Controls plant and spoke with some manufacturing folks and our sponsor, Carol Ayotte. Impressed but still curious, he asked me, “Can we see what the engineers are doing?” So I took him to the Avionics division and we went into a simulator lab. There, a loyal Manpower temp greeted us and proceeded to give Mitchell a tour of the lab and let him sit in the simulator. Asking questions and appearing like a little kid in a toy store, he begrudgingly said we had to head back.
In the car he told me that in all his years with Manpower he was never so proud that his people were doing such important work. He proclaimed that Manpower temps can do anything (as long as the workers’ comp wasn’t too high). We drove to the main office so he could congratulate the team and thank Joe Tuerff for having the tenacity to believe in Manpower. Just before I brought him back to the hotel I asked the office manager to take a picture of him and me. At the last minute I grabbed a few props from a recent Mexican fiesta and the moment was frozen in time … the “Gaucho and the Gringo” do the Southwest.
I met Mitchell many years later in a workout room in Marco Island Florida. He was retired and I was doing some sales training for TAC Worldwide. He recognized me and fondly recalled our trip. Although our encounters were few, he had a lasting impression on me and I think the entire temp staffing industry can give him some credit for moving the level of temp service in the direction we are all heading today.