Qwick, the Phoenix-based on-demand staffing platform for the food and beverage industry, will add more than 100 new employees this year — further evidence that Arizona continues to stand out as an up and coming tech ecosystem coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To say that Qwick struggled in 2020 would be an understatement. The company’s revenue dropped 80% nearly overnight when the country went on lockdown in March. In a recent episode of AZ Tech Podcast, Qwick co-founder Jamie Baxter got emotional when he said they eventually had to cut 70% of staff, going from 54 employees down to 19.
“That’s not a question of, like, who you let go. We wiped the slate clean and said, ‘Who do we absolutely have to keep in order to keep the company running?’” Baxter said.
While many companies suffered or even shuttered during the pandemic, Qwick felt the change intensely as the company had been on a trajectory to fast success. But, as a company that relies on the food and beverage industry to stay in business, the pandemic was nearly a death sentence. Baxter almost had to shut down several times.
But now, Qwick is growing faster than ever as the country slowly gets back to normal and the food and beverage industry comes alive again. The company started 2021 with 20 employees but looks to get to 150 employees by 2022.
Baxter’s comeback story is a great one and it’s also a validation of what recents reports have said about Arizona’s growing economy and tech industry coming out of the pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has increased demand for technology,” Steven Zlystra, president and CEO of Arizona Tech Council, told the Chamber Business News. “From digital tools and services designed to keep a remote workforce secure and connected, to medical devices critical to fighting the virus, the entire world has relied on technology to keep citizens safe and economies running over the past year.”
Arizona’s tech economy is outpacing much of the rest of the country in salaries and job growth. Both the Dice 2021 Tech Salary Report and a report by the Arizona Tech Council indicate that Arizona tech salaries increased by 7.6%, which is more than double the national average growth rate of 3.6%.
Additionally, Arizona ranked 8th in net tech jobs added and 11th in percent of workforce in tech on the Cyberstates report produced by The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).
Zylstra notes that Arizona’s software industry has been key to driving Arizona’s economy over the last few years.
Qwick is hiring software engineers, as well as people to help with growth, marketing, operations, product, sales, and remote and hourly orientation specialists. The company also plans to expand their markets over the next two years. The company is currently in eight markets but hopes to get to 14 markets by the end of 2021 and 25 markets by the end of 2022.