WorkSource Inc., an industrial staffing firm based in West Des Moines, Iowa, appears in this month’s Center Stage. The firm ranked No. 1 on Staffing Industry Analysts’ 2011 list of fastest-growing staffing firms with a compound annual growth rate of 52 percent. We interviewed WorkSource’s president and CEO, Christy Shannon, about the company’s evolution.
Q: How do you feel about being on Staffing Industry Analysts’ list of fastestgrowing staffing companies?
A: It was exciting being recognized and we feel very honored to have made the list with other great firms.
Q: Why do you think you grew so fast?
A: I’ll tell you why. It’s because I have the best staff in the world. They are all entrepreneurial in spirit. We have done so much training and education. They also have extensive certifications. We have six recruiters who are certified staffing professionals (CSP) — the certification through ASA. And then two of our staff have earned their SPHR certifications — the highest level in the human resource field. The bottom line is we invest in our people.
Q: If they’re so well trained and well qualified, why do you think they are staying with a small firm?
A: Because it’s a family atmosphere. I don’t make all the decisions here. We make a lot of decisions as a team. … Even if it’s what we want to do for the next five years, everybody gets to participate.
Q: And what was the idea behind starting the company?
A: My husband and I had owned a sign manufacturing company for 20 years. … So my background involved an industrial atmosphere and doing all the HR and hiring gave me the understanding of the challenges of the workforce. We utilized staffing services; we were a client and that in itself was sometimes equally challenging. When we sold our company and decided we wanted to go into another business, staffing made a lot of sense. I always loved doing the HR side of it.
I felt like I knew exactly from a client’s perspective what a quality staffing firm needs to be. And so going into the staffing business, I felt like we could offer services that would be extremely beneficial to clients. Because I knew what production was all about and efficiencies and time management and routing products — that sort of thing, we started with a plan and we’re succeeding at it. Now we’re celebrating our success and that success just encourages more and more planning. For instance, we have our next five years planned out.
Q: Tell me about that.
A: Our strategic plan for 2016 identifies everything from the number of branches we want to the number of staff members needed and the structure of how the company will look. Everything is identified clear down to how we dress, how we act, how we grow.
Q: So your strategy is to keep doing what you’re doing.
A: Yes, for the most part. We also have incorporated a program called the E-Myth Mastery Impact. Our entire staff has worked with it. That has helped us identify several centers: money, marketing, lead generation, lead conversion, client fulfillment, and then management. We have written processes and procedures (around these centers) because it’s not just about recruiting and filling orders. It’s about managing your money. It’s about marketing. It’s about client fulfillment. It’s about lead conversions, lead generation. This allowed our team to grow and learn areas that they didn’t know; it’s made them all business-savvy.
Q: How are you going to manage this growth?
A: We want controlled growth, but we already have the positions identified in our organization chart. We already have our core staff working toward qualifications needed for these future positions. As I said earlier, we have everything planned and mapped out. During the recession we pretty much had to flip our business upside down because there was such a downturn in the industrial sector. It really hurt, but it taught us a lot about how we move forward. We want to be more efficient about how we grow and what services we’re going to bring to our clients but we want to be a systems-driven organization.
Q: How did you survive the recession?
A: I had to close branches, let staff go, and we cut everything to the bare bones. We had five branches at the time, but we kept all the core staff. We then focused on building relationships with new prospects so when business came back we could make back the revenue we lost. We also used that time for more training and education for our staff.
Q: What sets you apart from other staffing firms?
A: We provide our clients a well-trained staff with the top credentials to back it up. We provide our clients with free HR and risk management advice. And we get to know every aspect of a client’s operation to the point we become an extension of their staff.
Another important element is our WRC certification — it is the risk management program designed for staffing firms. Receiving our certification was one of our goals, and it meant that we have expertise in safety, accident injury investigations, modified duty programs and claims management.
We’re also OSHA certified, and we’re continuously helping clients improve in that arena.
Q: Any tips that you would like to give to other staffing firms?
A: I’d say it’s important that you have a plan, the best technology, hire good people and then incent them to execute. Second, empower your people, and continually educate them.
Q: What is your revenue target for the coming year?
A: This year it’s $7.5 million.