Alex Blaker is the founder and CEO of Tech Supplier Inc., a Hackensack-based business that specializes in selling refurbished and refreshed electronic items online.
Some would call him a member of the disruptive e-commerce economy, a young entrepreneur who turned an idea he had in college into a multimillion-dollar business that lives on the internet.
And that would lead some to believe that his company is another member of the business community that is hurting the struggling brick-and-mortar retail industry that is such a big part of Bergen County.
That’s just not the case.
In fact, working with Jim Kirkos of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce, Blaker is becoming a friend of retail employees in the area.
He’s hiring them.
“It seems like this really great opportunity to take people who have a pretty similar skillset,” he said. “If you just retool them a little bit, you can get a workforce that maybe needs less training.
“These are good employees and are available, not because of their failure to perform, but because of the industry.”
Blaker, who had approximately 35 employees before the holiday season, said he added a half-dozen or so more to keep up with demand. And, for his company, there is plenty of demand.
“It’s such a funny time, with a store like Toys R Us struggling and filing bankruptcy while, at the same time, e-commerce, offline and non-brick-and-mortar sales are exploding,” he said.
He said the retail experience of the recent hires is invaluable.
“Within some of the roles, such as customer service, anything in the warehouse, doing anything with buying, it makes sense,” he said.
“When you bring in someone who does have the computerization experience and is familiar with the product, how it’s packaged, how you receive items, it makes a difference. And if you know how electronics come in and how to handle them, that’s a bonus.”
Of course, the real bonus for these displaced workers would be a full-time job.
Blaker said some are just seasonal help, but he does intend to keep a few. More so, he intends to keep going this route as his company expands.
“Kirkos connected us with the Workforce Labor Board and the New Jersey Onramp program,” Blaker said. “We know there is a lot of retail in the surrounding area here, and more and more stores are closing down.
“This seems like a good pool of talent for us to tap into.”