After success in corporate America, local businessman Tom Morales was looking for a simpler second half of his life. A son of immigrants from Mexico, he decided to launch an enterprise that helps legal immigrants find jobs in Central Indiana.
That venture, The Morales Group, has become one of the larger players in the growing staffing industry, as more companies outsource their workforce. Morales places about 2,785 people weekly on temporary assignments, which sometimes can become permanent.
He’s pleased with the growth, but he’s looking for something more significant than maximum financial profit. His company motto doesn’t sound Fortune 500: “Building better futures one story at a time.”
Walk into his headquarters in Pike Township, and the word “welcome” is prominently displayed on the wall in 34 languages.
“We’ve been a real magnet for the immigrant,” Morales, who has an engineering degree from Purdue, said. “What we offer the employer is the willingness to take on any job — their work ethic. They see it as opportunity.”
Morales grew up in Lawrence Township in one of the few Hispanic families in Indianapolis in the 1950s. His father settled here after several years of migrant work. Morales was successful at Proctor and Gamble and Union Carbide, but, growing in his Christian faith, he felt a tug to do something more. He knew Bible passages like, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
His father would also exhort him: “When are you going to give back?”
Observing the growing Hispanic population in Indy, Morales first took steps to establish a resource center for Hispanic immigrants. But one of the immigrants told him: “Mr. Tom, thank you for trying to help me with your resource center. What I would really like you to do is to get me a job. I’ll take care of the rest.”
Pulliam is associate editor of The Star. E-mail him at Russell.Pulliam@indystar.com. Follow him on Twitter at RBPulliam@twitter.com.
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