Pennsylvania native Saundra “SoJo” Johnson served in the United States Army before earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish. Though her goal was to teach, after a patience-challenging year, she switched gears.
Today she and husband Lt. Col. Wendell Johnson (stationed at Fort Eustis) have eight children and live in Suffolk. After a previous career in advertising for CBS, UPN and ABC affiliates in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Johnson was approached 11 years ago to do outside sales for a temporary staffing service. Subsequently in 2006, she began working for AppleOne Employment Services in Chesapeake, where she was a senior account executive. She handled many operational duties when the branch manager left earlier this year and in August, Johnson assumed the position of branch manager for AppleOne’s Port Warwick office.
“We have evolved to so much more at AppleOne,” Johnson explains of a business previously focused solely on temporary staffing. “We are an employment service, mostly focused on the long term but still work with temporary staffing.”
AppleOne participates in the Military Spouse Employment Program (MSET).
“You take a portable spouse, like myself, who sometimes gets stationed somewhere else, causing a transition. This works well with AppleOne’s 200-plus locations.”
Founder and CEO of ACT•1 Group, Janice Howroyd, began the company that now operates in 19 countries with more than 17,000 clients and 2,800-plus employees. AppleOne Employment Services is one of its
family of companies.
“I like that we’re privately and minority-owned,” Johnson says. “I love the history of an African-American
female leaving North Carolina and
going to California to begin her career.”
While on the West Coast, Howroyd met and married Bernie Howroyd, who owned AppleOne Employment Services. Locally, AppleOne staffs administrative, clerical and financial support-type positions. The company finds candidates through online applications and schedules face-to-face interviews with candidates, performing skill evaluations if necessary. AppleOne account executives also seek out passive candidates who are already employed, but may be looking to transition to a new role.
Typically, AppleOne candidates are paid an hourly rate, and the company charges the client/employer a bill rate. The employee’s hourly pay includes a burden for everything from unemployment to taxes and everything else that comes with having an employee.
“Our goal is for a candidate to eventually become a full-time employee,” Johnson says.
“SoJo went over and beyond as my employer,” Tanisha Gaines, a client of AppleOne, says. “She inspired me to reach for a supervisory position. With her on my team, I can reach for the stars!”
AppleOne offers benefits some other services don’t. “Everything from a 401K, health benefits, discount amusement park tickets and discount cell phone programs,” Johnson says.
“AppleOne’s mission statement is to find, to understand and to fulfill the needs of another,” Johnson says. “Our success goes back to our Hiring Made Human motto. You treat people right.”
To accomplish this goal, communication is key at AppleOne, where each candidate has a dedicated recruiter and each employer client has an account executive.
“You don’t go long without picking up the phone even if you haven’t found the candidate an opportunity,” Johnson explains. “We are that second set of eyes for them. You need to be touching weekly for the first 30 days.”
Johnson is available to speak to groups, teaching how to find employment, how to use social media, offering resume’ tips and teaching how to fine tune one’s job search.
“AppleOne believes everything starts with the people we bring in to find employment,” Johnson says. “You go home at the end of the day and get those grateful and excited phone calls. Or you call to tell a candidate you have an offer for them. Sometimes people cry because they are so excited. These are things that make me love what I do.”
In her free time, Johnson tutors ESOL students for Suffolk Literacy. She is also vice chair for the Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Program Board, and she volunteers with Second Chance reentry program. Additionally, Johnson coaches for Girls on the Run, a national program teaching girls in third through eighth grade about healthy eating, healthy lifestyle and how to deal with everything from bullying to becoming a leader.
“AppleOne really puts the candidate in the forefront,” Cathy Tirado, executive account manager at AppleOne’s Chesapeake branch, says. “We are constantly trying to develop new business so we are presenting candidates to companies all over the area.”