Chris Chancey, CEO and founder of Amplio Recruiting, once had a list a needs in his pocket--a list of problems to be solved. Chris is a big thinker, so his list included the need for a dependable workforce for American businesses and industries and the need for jobs for refugees. Pretty big problems, huh? One day it dawned on Chris that he had a problem and solution right there on the same piece of paper. Refugees could fill the need that American businesses had for dependable employees. Now he just had to sell the idea to American businesses.
According to Stephen Assink, managing director of Amplio’s Atlanta team, it shouldn’t be a hard sell. “American businesses need dependable, hard-working employees. Refugees come here looking for stability and a way to take care of their families. Our clients say that their refugee employees have good rates of retention and are eager to work.”
Amplio Recruiting is a for-profit employment agency that connects businesses with the refugee workforce. Assink’s job is to oversee and grow the team that recruits businesses who are looking for workers and place refugee employees in those businesses. His team, which amongst them speak 11 different languages, takes applications from refugees and some Americans, and, if they’re the right fit, helps them find jobs. It’s a successful partnership for everyone.
“It’s always a balance,” he says, “between recruiting businesses and the workers that best fit those businesses’ need. Fortunately, at Amplio we have good systems and business processes to make this happen.”
The response to Amplio’s services has been very positive.
After placing a group of Syrian women at a company, Assink received great feedback from that company. “A shift manager came and said his productivity was up 80%. It was blowing his mind.”
But that’s just one example. There are many companies who are experiencing the same positive reactions. “How do you know if you’re selling a good service?” Stephen asks, “When you have month-over-month loyalty from customers. I’ve been working with some of the same companies for over two years now and love seeing the impact our employees are having for our clients over time.”
You don’t just have to take Assink’s word for it. Check out the quotes below from businesses that have used Amplio’s services.
In fact, below is a list of just some of the companies that are clients of Amplio.
Amplio has offices in Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. Assink says that the Atlanta office has begun to see growth particularly in placing refugees at manufacturing jobs. “Manufacturing is a good client base for us because the refugees can learn new skills and gain stable employment. Also, manufacturing jobs are better paying than some other industries and provides room for growth for its employees.”
At the present, manufacturing jobs include assembly and production line work, along with many other things. Amplio’s challenge is to determine how refugees can remain relevant in an industry that is constantly changing.
“We have to always ask ourselves, ‘What does growth look like for Amplio and how do we play to our core strengths?’” he says. “As manufacturing changes, the skills of those we employee will need to change and we need to help refugees keep their skills up to the needed levels. We also need to continue to grow in the area of training refugees for upper level skills for the manufacturing industry.”
In addition to meeting the needs of their company clients, Amplio takes responsibility for protecting their refugee clients as well. “The refugee community can be easily exploited. They come here and don’t speak the language well and can get stuck in a minimum wage job no matter how long, how hard, or how dependably they work for a company. We protect our workers and only place them with companies that take care of their people.”
That doesn’t mean that everyone who applies gets a job and keeps a job through Amplio. “We’re not a charity. We provide space for refugees to learn and make mistakes in a safe environment, but sometimes we have to let people go because they are not a good fit for our business clients.”
Even with that said, the lives that have been enriched by being employed through Amplio originate from countries across the globe. Below are just some of the faces of those that have found meaningful employment and a better life. Top row, Mohammad Soda, Syria; Luke Werga, Sudan; Mohammad Rafiq, Burma. Second row, Albritha Booker, originally from Liberia and now a U.S. Citizen; Zinah Ghazi, Iraq; and Robe Kumsa, Ethiopia.
Take a minute to look again at those faces remembering that the definition of a refugee is someone who has fled violence. Statistically, 40% of refugees have experienced torture. Each person you see above has fled their home country in fear for their lives and the lives of their families. Many have lost family members and all have had to leave family members behind. Those who are fortunate enough to get to come to the U.S., are grateful to be here and want to start lives filled with safety and stability.
In light of ongoing political rhetoric about immigration and refugees, it is very easy to only see refugees as a line of print on a newsfeed or as an incendiary headline. So, how does a boy from rural Mississippi go from life on a farm near Hazlehurst to working with people from all over the world in spite of the current culture?
“It’s about exposure to others and educating and challenging yourself to see things from their perspective,” Assink explains.
Assink, who was born in Texas, moved to Mississippi when he was five years old. He attended Copiah Academy and the University of Southern Mississippi where he majored in philosophy. Following his time at Southern Miss, he moved to Virginia and pursued a masters at the University of Virginia where he met his wife, Catherine. Four years ago, the Assinks moved from Charlottesville, Virginia, to Atlanta for her to study to become a midwife at Emory University. Two years ago, in light of the controversy regarding the admission of additional Syrian refugees into the U.S., Assink wanted to learn more about refugees in his area and began volunteering at Friends of Refugees, a longstanding ministry, in Clarkston, Georgia. The experience impacted Assink’s life both professionally and spiritually.
Because of his work with Friends of Refugees, he was able to move into a job with Amplio Recruiting. Also through his work with refugees, he was able to put himself into a space where he could learn about the plight of refugees and how God relates to them. “I saw God’s love for the ‘other’ in a new light. We all were the ‘other,’ separated from God but provided for by the death of Christ. Christianity is, at its base, a radical love of the ‘other.’”
Working with refugees has led him to grow in showing respect for the faith and cultures of others. “I have seen so much kindness and humanity from the people with which I work every day.”
He also sees working with Amplio as a way love others and help them in concrete ways. “We are called to live by grace and love others.”
Through his work at Amplio, Assink and his team are doing just that.