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Tapping retirees' talents

September 03, 2007|Jonathan Peterson | Times Staff Writer

A potential brain drain as baby boomers leave the workforce has led at least one company to carve out a role linking aging scientists and engineers with companies in need of their talents.

"When they retire they find themselves wanting to remain engaged," said Brad Lawson, chief executive of Indianapolis-based YourEncore. "We provide them with an outlet."

As it turns out, a lot of employers wish to engage their services, typically for short-term projects. Started in 2003 with early support from Procter & Gamble Co., Eli Lilly & Co. and Boeing Co., YourEncore has expanded to a network of more than 22 companies in a growing range of industries, including medical devices, food and defense.

At the same time, its pool of retirees has grown from 300 to 3,000.

The tale underscores the reality that individuals with coveted technical skills -- even those who have reached retirement age -- remain valued commodities.

In one case, the firm linked a retired rocket scientist who was an expert in avalanche prediction with a consumer products company that wanted to reduce the clumps in its powdered detergent. In another, it hooked up a retired expert on miniature electric motors with a company that wanted to develop such a motor for a hand-held appliance.

Retirees can register with YourEncore for free by going to

Companies, which pay a fee, may search the database for the expertise they seek. The experts become employees of YourEncore, which pays them at their former wage level adjusted for inflation, plus a 20% premium.

"Really sophisticated, specialized skill is in demand someplace in the world by someone," Lawson said. "Making that connection is what we do for retirees."


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