When he purchased the local Manpower franchise with friend and business partner Phil Blair in the late 1970s, Mel Katz was told something by his father: to get involved in the community and show people the kind of work you do without pushing the business. Katz took those words to heart. Under his leadership, Manpower San Diego looks to finish 2010 with double-digit growth and more than $90 million in billings, but Katz’ involvement in the community goes far beyond just finding the unemployed a paycheck.
Embracing as the business mantra his father’s words that good business would follow good stewardship, Katz, who holds a marketing degree from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, was an instrumental force in garnering the San Diego City Council’s vote in 2010 to approve a new central library. He also helped open the new library in Logan Heights that, at 25,000 square feet, dwarfed the 80-year-old, 4,000-square-foot library it replaced. He is the former chair of the San Diego Board of Library Commissioners and currently sits as chair of the San Diego Public Library Foundation, which raises money for the entire system. “That is going to have an unbelievable impact on this region,” Katz said of the new central library. In keeping with his father’s advice, he has long championed library availability and improvement in San Diego. “I have a strong feeling that there are so many people that need libraries for getting on a computer or getting books,” Katz said. “If we’re going to improve education, our kids need to have those resources and the valuable resources of librarians to help them.” One of the biggest achievements that Katz feels will come out of his successful push for a new central library will be an additional 320 computers. More than 50 percent of the children in San Diego, he added, depend on their library’s computers to get online, but the current downtown library only offers 80.
Additionally, Katz and partner Blair have also each previously headed the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and the San Diego Workforce Partnership, while Katz has been chair of the Convention Center Corp. From a business standpoint at Manpower, Katz’s personal outreach in public service may have only served to help his efforts to keep Manpower a leading company in the region. Manpower San Diego has a permanent staff of 100 and serves to find work for more than 3,000 temporary workers. Manpower’s successful 2010 gives Katz a positive outlook for 2011, but his vision of a successful new year would ultimately rest on two things: completing the fundraising for the new central library and seeing his permanent staff increased by 10 percent. If the words of Katz’ father hold true, the cards may just fall into place by themselves. “I think that because of community involvement, different people definitely know that Manpower is in San Diego and is a major player in San Diego,” Katz said.
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Aug. 14, 2014 -- George Chamberlin discusses veterans in the workplace with Trevor Blair, workforce development manager for Manpower, who explains the firm's military transition support project.