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From the Review Messenger Newspaper - Wadena, Minnesota
People's Express Founder, Jan Roers, Named "Outstanding Employer of Older Workers"
By Fran Farris

Jan Roers, founder and CEO of People's Express in Wadena, has been awarded Minnesota's 2004 Oustanding Employer of Older Workers in America designation by the Experience Works, Inc. Prime Time Awards Program.

On September 20th, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty presented Roers with a Certificate of Commendation. She will also travel to Washington, D.C. to accept a national level award.

People's Express is one of only four businesses nationwide to receive the Experience Works national award, and the first business from Minnesota to be recognized for this accomplishment.

People's Express provides specialized transportation service for any person who needs assistance getting to medical appointments, or even for long distance trips. They service clients in more than 39 Minnesota counties, as well as to facilities in South Dakota, North Dakota and Iowa. Most clients pay for People's Express transportation services through private pay, Medical Assistance (MA) or insurance, depending on qualifications and coverage.

Roers began People's Express in 1992 with only two vans. The company now employs 42 workers, 38 are drivers. Two dispatchers coordinate the schedule for all 38 vans. While the organization's staff vary in age, nearly 45 percent of Roers' employees are age 65 or oder, and almost all of them work full time. Over 50 percent of her employees are over the age of 55.

Transporting older and sometimes disabled individuals takes patience and good customer service skills, said Roers; those skills come naturally to her older workers.

"Our jobs require more than just driving," said Roers. "Our drivers need to be tuned in to the needs of our clients. We've found that for our older employees, knowing how to make people feel welcomed and cared for comes naturally."

According to Roers, People's Express drivers give special attention to clients; oftentimes, in one-on-one situations. Dirvers are trained in vulnerable adult abuse prevention, first aid and passenger assistance. In addition, Jan's husband, Mike Roers, teaches the employees defensive driving.

"We take a real interest in the people we transport," says Roers.

While most People's Express riders are using the service for medical appointments, there are no limits to who can use the service or where it goes, said Roers. Currently, People's Express services over 100 facilities in the state including nursing homes, hospitals, assisted living homes, medical clinics and group homes. They transport 12,000 clients per year, and logged over a million miles in 2003.

Not only do clients benefit from People's Express' personalized service, but the employees enjoy a very flexible scheduling process. Roers can even accommodate employees who only want to work on a seasonal basis, such as farmers, teachers or senior citizens. The company makes accommodations for family commitments and a multitude of other considerations.

Roers has actively recruited older workers by using targeted advertising to attract retirees who may be interested in returning to work. She views older workers as one of the keys to the success of her company and its ability to grow.

"Older workers have been essential to the success of our business," she said. "I would encourance any small company regardless of the services they offer, to consider hiring older workers. Their dedication, reliability, and wealth of experience makes hiring older workers a good business decision."

Roers said that People's Express exemplifies what can happen to a small company that purposefully looks to older workers for their employee base. "Each one of them is such a gift, They truly are," she said.

Experience Works is a national, 37 year old, nonprofit organization that offers training, employment and community service opportunities for mature workers. The Prime Time Awards Program salutes America's senior workforce by identifiying winners in three categories: Outstanding Older Workers, Outstanding Employers of Older Workers, and America's Oldest Worker.

No other national program recruits and identifies people over age 65 who are still contributing to their communities and keeping themselves healthy by working. The Prime Time Awards seeks to remove barriers and lessen stereotypes about older workers.

From the Senior Perspective Paper
People's Express honored at state, national levels
no author on file

Jan Roers, the founder and CEO of People's Express in Wadena, has been awarded Minnesota's 2004 Outstanding Employer of Older Workers in America designation by the Experience Works, Inc., Prime Time Awards Program.

In September, Minnesota Governor, Tim Pawlenty, presented Roers with a certificate of commendation, Roers will also travel to Washington, D.C., to accept a national level award.

People's Express services more than 100 facilities in the state, including many in west central Minnesota.

Roers said she has recruited older workers by using targeted advertising to attract retirees who may be interested in returning to work. She views older workers as one of the keys to the success of People's Express and its ability to grow.

"Older workers have been essential to the success of our business," said Roers. "I would encourage any small company, regardless of the services they offer, consider hiring older workers."

Roers started People's Express in 1992 with only two vans. The company now employes 42 workers and 38 are drivers. While the staff ranges in age, nearly 45 percent of the Roers' employees are age 65 or older and almost all of them work full time.