Michael Agema is an experienced educator and hotelier, who has worked for Georgian College for 29 years.

Agema started AGEMA Work (formally AGEMA Hospitality), which he sometimes views as a special operations team. “Go to this resort. Your contact person is…” he tells his staff.

The original plan was to take advantage of the gig economy to benefit resorts. “I called my five closest resort contacts, and asked them what they thought of the idea,” says Agema. “All five said, ‘Absolutely! When can we start.” The first year, the company employed 12 people.

“The motto is ‘Work when you want,’ — we don’t employ full-time people,” said Agema. For example, a person might be working part-time at Starbucks with three or four shifts a week, a total of 24 hours a week, as part-timers are the foundation of the business. Under the AGEMA Work system, that person could look on the AGEMA mobile app and find out if they could pick up another shift each week to help with finances.

The system creates opportunities for students, helping them reduce their student debt. It also helps overcome the barrier foreign students have — offering resume-boosting Canadian work experience.

“We like to take the B.S. and turn it into F.U.,” said Agema, adding that B.S. stands for back story and F.U. refers to future undertakings.

AGEMA Work staff range in age from 16 to 60 years old. “We haven’t yet captured the market for retirees who want to pick up a shift, meet people and get some exercise,” said Agema, adding that a typical shift can involve 7 kilometres of walking.

For the clients, it’s a system that offers pain relief when people don’t show up for their shifts. Business clients include The J.W. Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort, Casino Rama, Fern Resort, Blue Mountain and Deerhurst Resort.

Future plans including broadening the client base along the Highway 400-Highway 11 Corridor and within an hour’s commute of Barrie. AGEMA Work will also continue to enhance the mobile app, and eventually plan to offer an online training option for staff.

Article Source: Canadian Lodging Source, June 2019 Issue.