• History of Express Employment Professionals

    Since our beginnings, Express Employment Professionals has been guided by a simple vision: help as many people as possible find good jobs by helping as many clients as possible find good people.

    The journey to become an international franchised staffing giant was decades in the making, an evolution forged from humble beginnings, marked by perseverance, and an undying passion to help people build better lives for themselves and their families and help communities grow and prosper.

    Shortly after the end of World War II, an accountant, David L. Reiff, and his wife Doris moved from Chicago, IL, to Spokane, WA, in search of a more hospitable climate in which to open his bookkeeping business. He found an office located in the same building shared by a small employment agency that was struggling to stay afloat. As he operated his fledgling bookkeeping business, he took the opportunity to learn about the staffing industry by observing the staffing employees at work.

    In 1951, Mr. Reiff sold his accounting firm and bought the staffing company, renaming it Acme Personnel Services. His son, Bill, joined the business as it began to flourish. Throughout the early 1960s, Acme expanded to include offices throughout the state of Washington.

    In 1965, Robert A. Funk joined Acme in the Seattle office as a Staffing Consultant, helping match job applicants with job orders. In less than a year, due to dogged determination and his knack for building personal relationships, Mr. Funk was promoted to Office Manager.

    In 1969, Acme acquired a staffing office in Oklahoma City. Mr. Funk was offered the opportunity to manage the new territory and accepted the position. In a short time, he opened four new successful Acme offices in Oklahoma and was soon promoted to Vice President overseeing offices in Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Minnesota, Arkansas, and Colorado.

    In 1973, William H. Stoller, a college basketball player at Pacific University near Portland, OR, joined the Acme team as a part-time Staffing Consultant. In little time, his competitive spirit and determined work ethic led him to out-produce all other offices in the Portland area. In less than two years Mr. Stoller was promoted to District Manager.

    A recession in the early 1980s exacerbated Acme’s financial woes at the corporate level as cracks began to form in the foundation of the Acme business structure. Acme president Bill Reiff took drastic measures to keep Acme solvent, but the damage was too far gone.

    In 1983, Acme declared bankruptcy. Offices closed abruptly, leaving employees to ponder their futures. Mr. Funk, determined to keep his offices operational, contacted Mr. Stoller to ask if he was interested in forming a new temporary employment services company. Together, they contacted Acme Franchisee Jim Gray, inviting him to join them due to his extensive back office operations experience. Mr. Gray agreed and together the three men became the Founders of Express Temporary Services with eight offices in Oklahoma, Oregon, and Colorado. Though struggling in its infancy during a national economic downturn, Express managed to generate gross revenues of $2 million, despite the depressed economy.

    In 1985, Express employed 35,000 people and set their sights on bringing hope through employment to many more. The Founders determined that the best way to grow was through franchising, introducing a new era in Express’ history. Along with the new business model came a fresh new name: Express Personnel Services.

    1986 ushered in an era of exponential growth as the Express Founders acquired the franchise rights to 30 Acme offices across the United States. Sales grew 105% generating over $38 million.

    1988 saw Express open their 100th office and top $82 million dollars in sales.

    In 1990, co-founder Mr. Gray decided to sell his stock in Express. Founders Mr. Funk and Mr. Stoller purchased Mr. Gray’s shares, and the present-day ownership structure was cemented.

    In 1999, Express introduced rare black and white Clydesdales as corporate ambassadors. Since then they have toured and competed across North America. These gentle giants, each weighing between 1,800 and 2,300 pounds, help raise money for causes like Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and other charitable organizations. 

    Also in 1999, Express achieved a major milestone by reaching $1 billion in sales.

    In 2002, Express began franchising in South Africa with a desire to help people prosper through employment opportunities. 

    In 2005, Express awarded their 500th franchise, and helped a record 300,000 associates find employment.

    In 2008, Express celebrated 25 years of success and took advantage of the occasion to update their corporate identity to better reflect their wide array of employment services, changing their name to Express Employment Professionals.

    In October 2011, Express reached another major milestone by recording 3 million hours worked in a single week.

    In 2014, Express was recognized as the No. 1 industrial staffing provider as well as the fastest growing major staffing company.

    The accolades continued in 2016 as Express was named one of Forbes’ best franchises to buy. 2016 also saw an all-time high of 510,000 associates employed and record sales of $3.05 billion.

    Express reached another milestone in October 2017 by reaching 4 million hours worked in a single week.

    Lifetime achievement accolades were bestowed upon both Express Founders in 2017. In June, Mr. Stoller was inducted into the Lower Columbia College Athletics Hall of Fame as a two-sport inductee for his contributions as a player on the college’s basketball and baseball teams in the 1970s. Later that year in November, Mr. Funk received his state’s highest honor as he was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

    In 2019, Express employed 552,000 associates in more than 800 franchise locations, and generated more than $3.53 billion in sales. 

    Express acquired Frontline Recruitment Group, a recruitment and staffing company, in February 2020. This international expansion included 31 locations in Australia and three in New Zealand..

    Also in 2020, the Specialized Recruiting Group, an Express Employment Professionals company, takes an individual approach to professional placement. More than 100 locations offer support to local business communities and professionals seeking new career opportunities.

    In 2021, Entrepreneur Magazine named Express the No. 1 staffing franchise for the 10th consecutive year on their annual Franchise 500. In the same year, Express also received Inavero’s Best of Staffing Talent Award for the fifth consecutive year. Express earned Inavero’s Best of Staffing Client award as well, both designations claimed by fewer than 2% of staffing firms in North America.

    Currently Express franchise ownership opportunities are available in the United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Through diversification in Light Industrial, Skilled Trades, Office Services, and Professional staffing, Express intends to reach $5.5 billion in sales by 2025.

    Today, and every day, Express Employment Professionals remains dedicated to bringing hope through employment and to fulfill the mission to put a million people to work annually.


    (Sources: Helping People Succeed, the History of Express Personnel Services, written by Lu Hollander, 2017 Express Media Kit)