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THE HARTFORD COURANT
Hector Antonio Rodriguez: His Persistence Pays Off With Job, National Award
By RICHARD URBAN, Special To The Courant
October 28, 2002
The September day started out like any other for Hector Antonio Rodriguez. He arrived at The Hartford Financial Services Group's Southington document processing office ready to go to work.
When he walked into the records department, however, the place was decked out in balloons.
"I said, `Oh, it's somebody's birthday,' " Rodriguez said. "And it was for me."
Rodriguez had just been selected as the American Staffing Association's National Staffing Employee of the Year, and his supervisor and co-workers were throwing a little party for him.
"I lost words," said Rodriguez, a records associate at The Hartford. "I just said, `Thank you.' I didn't know what to say."
"He was definitely at a loss for words," said his supervisor, Tracey Raines-Daley.
"He's normally kind of quiet, but his jaw kept dropping as they told him more and more about what he won."
He had a few weeks to collect his thoughts before the association flew him and his wife, Sol Maria, to Orlando, Fla., for a weekend in early October, where he was honored at a luncheon, received a $2,500 travel voucher and gave a short speech.
"I was just very happy," he said of being called to the stage to a standing ovation from the 1,000 people attending.
"I was just trying to get the speech out of the way. The speaker held me on the stage for a while, and kept talking about me. Then he calmed me down so I could say my speech."
Rodriguez's story is one of persistence and desire.
A 43-year-old native of Puerto Rico, he and his family moved to New Britain in the mid-1960s. After graduating from New Britain High School, he worked in light industry and held an assortment of odd jobs.
He moved to Detroit for a few years in the mid-'90s and drove a van for the handicapped. After returning to New Britain three years ago, he was a part-time carrier for the New Britain Herald.
Rodriguez had once worked in Aetna's documents department, and he realized he liked an office environment.
"It was my first job sitting down," he said. "I had other jobs, but you did a lot of walking."
A job counselor at Connecticut Works referred him to the temporary staffing firm Adecco, which placed him at The Hartford.
"We had a lot of problems in the past with direct hiring," Raines-Daley said. "The person that you meet in an interview wasn't always the person that they turned out to be later on."
The Southington office frequently hires people who have no office experience and minimal skills, then trains them, she said.
"A lot of times, this is the first real job that people have had," Raines-Daley said.
Contracting with a temporary agency allows Raines-Daley to assess employees' work ethic and potential and select the best people for permanent positions.
Rodriguez, who started with The Hartford in April 2001, earned a permanent job in August of this year.
He is responsible for preparing documents to be microfilmed, and for retrieving microfilmed documents for service representatives.
As the division moves to a personal computer-based document management system, he is being trained to assist in that transition.
Also, because he is bilingual, he has started to carve out a niche for himself by helping to translate documents from Spanish to English to help the company serve its growing Hispanic clientele.
"Hector is probably one of the most reliable people I've ever met," Raines-Daley said. "He never calls in sick, and he always makes you aware of where he'll be and what he is doing."
Those attributes spurred Raines-Daley to nominate Rodriguez for employee of the year when Adecco solicited nominations earlier this year.
"I thought he was truly a contemporary temporary," Raines-Daley said.
The ASA received well over 100 nominations from around the country, said Steve Berchem, a vice president for the industry association.
The award, which has been given for about 15 years, "is a celebration of what we call the stars of America's workforce, and it is the recognition program for temporary and contract employees across the nation. We make a selection based on the nomination of an individual that best embodies the key messages that the industry is putting forth."
In addition to the trip to Orlando and the travel voucher, Rodriguez is featured on the association's website, www.staffingtoday.net, will be the subject of a cover story in the January issue of the association's magazine, and will be at the center of various publicity campaigns throughout the year.
Adecco had a little surprise for Rodriguez, too. The company awarded him an additional travel voucher, which he intends to use with the association's voucher to take his wife and five children to Puerto Rico.
"I might even invite my parents to go with me, too," he said.
That doesn't surprise Donna Carabetta, the client services manager at Adecco's Hartford office who placed Rodriguez at The Hartford.
"This is a man who is completely devoted to his family. He actually works four 10-hour days and takes Wednesdays off to spend time with his children," Carabetta said. "He's a wonderful man."