Winfield firm matches jobs with high-tech 'temps'

May 30, 1993|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

Maryland Technical Services Inc. specializes in finding contract work for more than 200 unemployed or underemployed engineers and technical designers.

"We're sort of a high-tech Kelly [temporary] service," said William J. Saghy Jr., the company president.

Maryland Technical, which recently moved operations to Winfield, got its start in 1987 when Mr. Saghy, a contract employee for Gould Electronics, was working on an anti-submarine warfare project, he said. The initial program ended, and Gould received a follow-up contract and wanted to give Mr. Saghy the job.

However, he had to incorporate because federal regulations require that such contracts go to corporations, not individuals, he said.

"I felt like I was just lucky," Mr. Saghy said. "Then we got contracts with other companies, one after the other, and here we are."

Slowly, Mr. Saghy developed a file of more than 200 potential employees through newspaper ads and personal contacts. The company's areas of experience range from aerospace, automation and robotics to architectural and civil engineering design.

The company's director of engineering, Robert S. Bruff, began working with Mr. Saghy in January 1991 after a major project at Litton Industries was canceled. Mr. Bruff was the manager of technical standards for Litton.

"A lot of people would like to work for us, if we can find the jobs," Mr. Saghy said.

A graduate of Baltimore's Polytechnic Institute, Mr. Saghy completed an 8,000-hour apprenticeship with AF&G Tool and Die in Baltimore.

"That program normally takes four years, and I did it in less than three," he said.

Mr. Bruff graduated from the Johns Hopkins University with an engineering science degree in 1969, received a master's degree in business from Loyola in 1973 and is working on his Ph.D in international studies.

"Bill has the good practical experience, and I have the scholarly background," Mr. Bruff said. "The combination of the two is hard to beat."

Maryland Technical has three or four steady client companies that call when they have job openings.

"I try to match the requirements with the person who has the skills," Mr. Saghy said. "Usually, we can come together with the company to fill the position."

Clients are charged $25 to $50 per hour, depending on the employee's skill and availability.

"One person who can do the job might have a higher rate because he can work faster," Mr. Saghy said. "Or, a company might not want to wait a month until a certain person is available, so they are willing to pay an extra dollar or two an hour to get him immediately.

"I get jobs because of my reputation, not because of the price I charge."

The workers are employees of Maryland Technical, which handles all salary withholdings, such as for taxes and Social Security, Mr. Saghy said. Client companies pay Maryland Technical directly.

"We charge the companies a flat rate," Mr. Saghy said.

The company's current contract is with Swales and Associates in Baltimore, working for NASA on an international satellite project to measure tropical rainfall.

The satellite -- for which Maryland Technical employees are designing the antennas and solar panels, ground supports and test equipment -- will be launched from Japan in 1996.

"I think you'll see more of these joint international projects in the .. future," Mr. Bruff said.

Although Mr. Saghy has lived in Carroll County only about a month, he's been familiar with the area for years. His grandparents lived in Woodbine during the early 1950s, and his sister-in-law lives a quarter-mile from the Saghys' home in Winfield.

"I just felt I wanted to live in the country," Mr. Saghy said. "We had been regularly coming up here for 20 years."

Mr. Bruff has lived in Winfield for years.

"There's a better quality of life here," he said. "The work ethic is a little higher here than in the metropolitan counties. People in a rural setting might take a lower dollar figure, but they'll give you more of an honest day's work."

After six years of working with defense and space contractors, both men say they want to diversify into manufacturing and design through joint ventures with existing Carroll firms.

"Defense has taken some heavy hits lately and NASA is doing well right now," Mr. Bruff said. "But it's only a matter of time before that cycles out. We'd like to be positioned so we can weather that turn as well."

Both men said their interest in joint ventures could bring more high-tech jobs to Carroll County. After developing marketable ideas, the initial company could then hire more people to produce the product.

"Everybody benefits," Mr. Saghy said. "We're living here, so it's not like we're people from out of the county that want to take advantage of the lower-paid label and leave. We want to have a positive effect on the community."

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