Growth Strategies

Young Is Old

Maybe youthful energy can't quite top the experience that comes with age after all.
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the September 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Riegsecker Marketplace Inc. has good employees. Founded by Mel Riegsecker, this combination retailer, restaurant and furniture manufacturing company in Sheshewana, Indiana, has a specific hiring strategy. Part of what keeps this $13 million business successful, Riegsecker says, is hiring people over age 50. A veteran interviewer, he's turned off by the sometimes arrogant attitude of recent grads vs. the experience, skill and solid work ethic of the mature worker. When faced with such prospects, he says, "It doesn't take me long to make a decision."

According to a report by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, job search time for workers over 50 shortened last year, despite a slump in overall hiring. Meanwhile, the National Association of Colleges and Employers reports companies are hiring about 20 percent fewer graduates in 2002 than last year. The trend is fed by the swell of aging baby boomers and the fact that one person turns 50 every six seconds, says Don Blohowiak, a workplace issues expert and founder of the Lead Well Institute. "These boomers aren't ready to retire-they want active work, to make a contribution."

Don't know where to find more seasoned workers? Riegsecker, 61, enlisted the help of Experience Works (www.experienceworks.org), a nonprofit organization that offers training and employment services for mature workers as well as a staffing service to place them in jobs.

That doesn't mean young employees aren't a part of this workplace trend. Riegsecker notes that his 27-year-old son, Ryan, was mentored by and worked closely with a 60-year-old worker who once managed the $894 million sales of a large corporation. Says Riegsecker: "They made a tremendous team."

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