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NORTH BAY – As several of the North Bay’s top staffing agencies close offices or drop out of the area, others have devised strategies to pick up the expected recovery in business, adding services, space and new talent.

As at least four firms rated in the largest 20 of the Business Journal’s 2009 staffing list have closed offices in recent months or plan to, others prepare for the expected return of hiring in the first quarter.

Leaders with the local branches of W.A. Hynes & Company, Mainstay Business Solutions, Ledgent and Volt last week reported plans to expand offerings in the North Bay.

Hynes Director of Staffing Mary Ann Mancuso said in the first two weeks of November the 33-year-old company posted more job openings than the entire month of September, offering a glimmer of hope in what has been a tough year for staffers.

“I think what happens is people panic and layoff too many and as things start to recover, there are projects that need to get done, employees that have been overworked, and businesses are ready to take on new staff,” Ms. Mancuso said.

Though margins were not immune to the economic slowdown, Hynes has prepared for expansion, moving its Rohnert Park headquarters to a larger location in Petaluma and adding a new sales expert in September. Last week the high-end staffing company rolled out a new service line, and officials are preparing to unveil new branding and a more robust Web site Dec. 1.

The new online presence will have a cleaner, more simple feel but with improved interactive features, according to Systems Operations Manager Adam McKenna. Job seekers will be able to search through listings, upload resumes and apply for positions through the site, and employers can post openings and better navigate through applicant profiles.

Mr. McKenna is also leading a new IT service line officially released Nov. 16. The managed services division basically acts as an outsourced IT department, monitoring an existing system, protecting the network and Internet operations, designing a Web site or creating a complete department from scratch.

Elsewhere in the North Bay, Ledgent staffing has introduced a “video resume” service. The tool called Video Select allows applicants to include a recorded introduction with their application.

The national company, which also experienced the biggest two weeks of the year in November, is at the same time preparing to open its Ultimate Staffing Division to North Bay clients in 2010. The Santa Rosa office currently staffs finance and accounting positions, but the new service line will add administrative, clerical and light industrial jobs.

Newcomer to the North Bay Mainstay Business Solutions has more than quadrupled in size this year, acquiring Bay Area company ProTrades Connection and another southern California staffer.

“We are very optimistic right now and are aggressively adding people in all locations,” said President Larry Oreskes.

The risk management, self-insured workers’ comp and blue-collar staffing company now includes 15 California locations, and plans to add new branches are in the works. Mr. Oreskes said the self-insured division is particularly well positioned with rate increases expected in the traditional market this year. The company was originally launched during the workers’ comp crisis in the early 2000s when employers looked for ways to stabilize pricing.

“In this economic environment, a 10 to 20 percent increase in workers' compensation premiums can be the difference between staying in business or not,” Mr. Oreskes said.

“By really managing risk and committing to safety we are able to keep prices stable and lower than what anyone else can offer.”

National firm BBSI has also shifted focus in the North Bay from staffing to self-insured workers’ compensation and other human resources offerings. The HR management company with offices in Napa and Vacaville made coverage to employees in construction and manufacturing its focus, though it has offered the service for some time.

“Our whole philosophy is to mitigate risk before it happens,” said Napa Branch Manager Stephen Beait.

Also among new service lines, national staffing company Volt Workforce Solutions is offering a specialty staffing service to veterans. The national agency with an office in Santa Rosa announced the Volt Military Heroes Program earlier this year, which works with employers to identify positions available to returning war veterans.

Sonoma-based Nelson Staffing has also augmented employee screening services, offering in-house background checks and personality assessments that were previously performed by outside consultants.