Thursday, June 30, 2011

AP: Rhode Island company claims they can't find analytical chemists

Looks like you have plenty of room for colleagues...
Photo credit: Stephan Savoia, AP
From an astute reader comes a claim that's just a little hard to take from a company owner / manager of chemists:
John Russo's chemical lab in North Kingstown has been growing in recent years, even despite a deflated economy, and he expects to add another 15 to 20 positions to his 49 employees over the next year. But the president of Ultra Scientific Analytical Solutions has found himself in a vexing spot, struggling to fill openings that require specialized training in a state where the jobless rate is close to 11 percent, the third-highest in the nation. 
"It's very difficult to find the right person, and there's all walks of life trying to find jobs. I honestly think there's a large swath of unemployable," said Russo, whose firm manufactures and supplies analytical standards. "They don't have any skills at all." 
[snip] It took Ultra Scientific's Russo more than half a year to fill one of those jobs. Until recently, he couldn't find anyone to operate a specialized piece of equipment that performs high-pressure liquid chromatography, a technique that separates compounds in a solution. But his firm's gain represents an economic loss to the state: The Ph.D. Russo is hiring is coming from Thermo Fisher Scientific, which is shuttering its manufacturing facility in east Providence.
I am quite sympathetic to people who get quoted by reporters -- it's terribly difficult to communicate well, and it's even more difficult to communicate to non-chemists. That being said...

Mr./Dr. Russo,

You. Must. Be. Joking. I know that it must be difficult to attract people to North Kingstown, RI (arguably the Providence metropolitan area), but I am pretty sure there is no shortage of skilled analytical chemists and/or lab technicians in your state (home to a variety of fine universities) or region (say, have you heard of this company called Pfizer that's laying off people in Groton, CT in droves?)

This comment about how it took six months to find someone that could work an HPLC is ridiculous -- I assume that it was a misquote, and you're looking for a skilled, experienced HPLC expert (which is why you'd hire an experienced Ph.D. chemist.)

I trust that you are concerned that you can't find the right people at the right wage for you. I promise you, these days, you can get experienced people for a relative song.

Surely, Mr. Russo, there must be some mistake here. If not, I suggest that you run an ad in ACS Careers (probably $600 or so) or try the Providence Craigslist Science/Biotech section. 

Best wishes, CJ

(And please, don't provide quotes like this anymore.)


  1. Unstable IsotopeJune 30, 2011 at 4:24 PM I'm having a really hard time believing this. Was he advertising on Craig's List or something?

  2. I assume he also wants to pay below average wages and benefits, and not provide relocation services?

  3. Another quote by Russo:

    “There’s a strong potential in Rhode Island for chemistry-related industry growth if we can produce a steady stream of top-quality chemists educated on state-of-the-art equipment,” John Russo said.

    Russo has a PhD in Chemistry, he must know the job situation and just wants the labor as cheap as possible.

  4. From indeed: The search Ultra Scientific jobs in North Kingstown, RI did not match any jobs.

    From glassdoor: nothing...

    Scrolling through a few hundred google results, I couldn't find evidence of any job postings from this company.

    From findlaw: Dr. Russo (Mr. John Russo's dad) suing a former employee for violating an 'agreement [that] contained a provision that Yanusas not compete “any where in the United States” for a period of three years after the termination of Yanusas' employment.' Source:

    Seems like there might be more to the story than this guys inability to locate a qualified candidate.

  5. Correction to my earlier post. The father of John Russo has a PhD.

    @1:46 Nice find. When managers are complaining about a lack of employable people, they are often trying to give applicants a raw deal. McKinsey consulting doesn't allow some employees to consult for other firms, but at least they pay them enough not to worry about that stipulation.

    Want three years of exclusivity Dr. Russo? Pay up.

  6. Dear Mr/Dr Russo

    If you cannot find skilled employees in this economic climate you are incompetent. You have a fiduciary duty towards your investors to resign from your position forwith. Please do so.



  7. "I honestly think there's a large swath of unemployable," said Russo

    Dear Dr. Russo,

    When you discuss the 'large swath of unemployable' people are you talking about your former employees waiting out your employment contracts?

    Excuse me if I don't run to be first in the line for your postings.

    Would Prefer to Retain Ownership of my Brain

  8. This isn't new, is it? More of the ole "There's not enough scientists in this country" theme, right?

  9. the older dude on the picture pouring the stuff out into waste looks like Thilo Sarrazin - a perfect deadringer

  10. Ultra Scientific is an analytical service company, similar Exova, doing routine sample analysis. These analytical service companies pay very low. Chemists usually get 15-18 dollars per hour. No wonder he cant find skilled chemists. Who would spend 10 years to get a PhD and then work for 15/h?

    Mr. Russo a greedy employer who wants skilled workers for less!

  11. Has anyone brought this blog entry to the attention of Mr. Russo?
    Kingston would be an easy commute from Providence or from Groton. I personally know of at least a few dozen well-qualified chemists (who know how to use an HPLC!) that are unemployed in the Groton area. The comments from Mr. Russo are incompetent at best.

  12. Mr. Russo maybe be leaving out an important detail to his listing: how much is he willing to pay? My guess is that they can't get 100% trained people for ~$12 hour so they just sit on the position and make all the other employees work as hard a possible to cover the position but also scold them when they take overtime.
    I'm in my 20s, but whenever I talk about applying to jobs to people that are +15 years older than I am they said something like "Companies are looking for smart people to train." No, they're not. Why are employers so lazy about training people these days?


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20