Robert Knight

Robert Knight

2020 Community Heroes - The Times - Tualatin

Hometown: Tualatin

Why he is a hero: Robert helps people find employment during a pandemic and gives back to the community.



As a franchise owner for Express Employment Professionals in Tualatin, Robert Knight knows the importance of having — and holding a job during a time of high unemployment.

According to the Oregon Employment Department, Oregon’s latest unemployment rate sits at 7.7%, which is still lower than the national rate. The job market has been challenging for people to navigate with layoffs and reduced hours since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

At Express, Knight employs six people while helping others look for a job, even during these uncertain times. The staffing company shifted operations to minimize contact between people by assisting others over the phone and only allowing them to come in to fill out necessary paperwork.
“I would tell anybody that wants to find a job to go a staffing company, every time,” said Knight. “And the reason is, you can come into a staffing company, and they can put you in front of at least 100 different companies easily with one application.”

The franchise owner especially recommends the service for young people looking for a career change or someone who lost a job due to the virus.
Knight says he enjoys helping people find the next step in their career.
“It’s one of the greatest feelings I have every day,” he said. “At this point in my career, I don’t have to come into my office every day, but I want to come in every day. I think that happens when you do something that you absolutely love to do.”

Knight first arrived to Express 17 years ago as an employee looking for a new opportunity to grow and support his son. Three years later, he became an owner of an Express franchise.

But it wasn’t always an easy road for Knight.

He dropped out of high school and then became homeless for some time. The Tualatin resident got back on his feet after landing a position as an electronic assembler for Tektronix in Beaverton.

Knight also gives back to the community by donating to a charity that helps youths break the cycle of homelessness and troubled behavior.
“At the end of the day, even though you may not know the direct impact you’re making (for a charity), you know you’re making a difference,” Knight said. “And that means a lot.”

His staffing company also offers the Express Scholarship of Opportunity to students at Wilsonville and Tualatin High School. Student with a cumulative grade point average of 2.75, a strong high school attendance, and having succeeded despite hardships or obstacles such as poverty, disability, homelessness or personal tragedy may apply.

“We take it serious, and we really enjoy the opportunity to have a challenged young person who’s overcome that challenge to become successful,” said Knight.

Knight remembers a Syrian student winning the scholarship one year after the young man overcame learning English and taking care of his mother during a tough time.

“He had to represent his family when dealing with courts and immigration while going to school and still achieved a great GPA,” he said. “When he got our scholarship — we give about $1,500 – and to see his mother crying and the look on his face of complete joy is amazing.”

Whether it be at Express or giving back to the community, Knight hopes he can continue helping others realize their potential.

For those going through a tough time in life, Knight has one piece of advice: “Be willing to do what others won’t do.”

He adds that tough times will come but you will get ahead by investing your time and working hard.