SILVIS — David Pack cheerfully went about his work Wednesday — cleaning and prepping a sink full of yellow potatoes for meals being served at the John Deere Classic.
Just the day before, he had been asked to season nearly 1,500 pounds of potatoes.
"It's a lot of work and it's busy. But it's fun," Pack said. "It's getting me ready for my culinary arts classes."
The 27-year-old Colona man is among more than 100 temporary workers earning a paycheck this week as they work behind the scenes at the PGA Tour tournament in Silvis. Part of the kitchen crew, they will ensure there is plenty of fresh, hot food for the thousands of golf fans. The workers, who fill a variety of food service roles, are provided by two Quad-City staffing agencies: The Sedona Group, Moline, and Adecco, Bettendorf.
Working in two makeshift kitchens set up in an outdoor area known as The Compound, the temp employees work as cooks, prep staff, bartenders, servers, dishwashers, busers and runners. They are led by Spectrum Catering, the Woodlands, Texas, company responsible for all the food service at the tournament.
"We bring in a management crew of 35 people," said Gary Ormsby, Spectrum's executive touring chef. But the bulk of his workers are 150 Quad-City temp employees hired by Sedona and Adecco.
Ormsby said the Quad-City tournament is one of the company's favorite stops, in part, because of the quality of workforce they know they will have. "The nicest people we deal with," he said. "They are hard-working, have good attitudes. That begins with the security guards who let us in."
Working days that begin at 4 a.m. and run into the evening, he said the operation moves along smoothly even as the workload gets heavier and more hectic throughout the weekend. Standing in the kitchen at Pork Chopville -- a spin-off of the course's Pork Chop Hill, he said the veteran workers are unheard of among other venues Spectrum caters. "Ninety percent return each year. That's unusual for us."
But for Kim Woehlk, who has led Sedona's efforts at JDC the past 17 years, it is key to provide a qualified staff. "We take pride in getting the people here on time and people who know what they're doing,'' said Woehlk, who by day is Sedona Group's industrial division branch manager. She recruits the bartenders, servers, cocktail waitresses, runners and busers who work at the hospitality venues at the 18th green and elsewhere along the Silvis course.
She said the workforce includes traditional temporary workers, who are working one job assignment to the next, as well as other regulars who return year after year and just want a one-week job. "Many will take vacation to work this because they want to be part of the JDC," Woehlk said.
Michelle Brems, 45, of Moline, was busy working in the kitchen washing dishes. But in 11 years on staff, her regular post is as a cocktail waitress and buffet server in the skyboxes and chalets on the 16th green. She can say with precision how many steps she has to climb to get food from the preparation tent up to the skyboxes.
"You work your tail off, but it's worth it," Brems said, adding that she has her regulars year after year. "I'm working at Walmart now... But when I went back, I told them I have to take time off for the JDC."
Laura Crow, lead recruiter for Adecco, has worked the past nine years recruiting its work crew as kitchen staff. "This is the hub of the John Deere Classic," she said of bustling kitchen operation. Adecco hires grill cooks, prep cooks, dishwashers, buffet servers and runners who transport hot food from the kitchens in the southeast corner of the course to all of the food venues, including concession stands.
"These are wonderful skills they can take throughout their life," Crow said, adding that the agency tries "to place people where they will feel comfortable. "About one-third of them come back year after year."
Sherri Matuszyk of Kewanee, Illinois, who has worked for Sedona for the past eight years, gives up a week of her summer vacation each year to work as a bartender and buffet server for JDC. As a full-time food service director/cafe supervisor at Wethersfield School in Kewanee, she brings her food service and safety experience to the one-week assignment.
"This is something fun to do,'' Matuszyk said. "I see some of the same faces every year. It's good for the customers to see the same people and know what to expect." She traditionally serves inside the John Deere at 18, the first-class hospitality suite reserved for Deere & Co. executives and their guests.
Crow said the JDC work assignment has helped kick start some of her workers' careers. "This is a confidence builder. They see 'yeah, I can be out there working.' Then they're on to bigger and better things."