Interview with: Craig Johnson
Senior Editor & Research Analyst, Staffing Industry Analysts
Craig Johnson is the editor of the Staffing Industry Analysts North American Daily News and Staffing Industry Report. He also covers staffing industry legal issues.
Q: Why, and how, should staffing firms send you their company news?
CJ: Sending in news is a great way for firms to get the word out on what’s happening and to raise their company profile, both among other staffing firms and with buyers, who also receive our daily news email.
Staffing Industry Analysts North American Daily News focuses on stories such as contract wins, personnel changes, legal news, mergers & acquisitions, economic news, office openings and other items of interest. It doesn’t usually cover items such as awards announcements. We also focus on the staffing firms themselves rather than on outside firms such as vendors to the staffing industry.
Firms with news can email me directly, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: You’ve been covering staffing news for more than four years now. What’s the biggest story you’ve investigated?
CJ: Probably, the biggest story that we’ve covered was the bankruptcy of Ensemble Chimes Global in January 2008. This story involved the bankruptcy of the largest vendor management system. The bankruptcy proved a major disruption to the staffing industry.
ECG’s parent company, Axium International Inc., filed for bankruptcy the day before, and there were a number of allegations made against the management in a lawsuit filed by the company’s lender. Among claims made by the lender in its suit was that Axium’s owners received weekly payments of $8,000 in cash delivered by armored car that were in addition to their salaries, and that Axium paid $462,000 a year to lease luxury cars to its owners.
ECG was later sold but the reverberations from the bankruptcy linger. It was also a difficult story to cover at the time — people were hesitant to speak on the record. It was difficult to even locate some key players.
Q: You had trouble finding one person in particular in this case, but you ended up chasing him down by finding his phone number online in a church newsletter?
CJ: Yes, in this case we were having difficulty finding one of the bidders for ECG’s assets. However, we eventually found his telephone number in a newsletter posted online and were able to contact him.
Q: You used to keep a file of some of the funnier stories …
CJ: We used to run a regular feature in the Staffing Industry Report newsletter called “Oddly Enough” and it featured humorous and offbeat stories. We still try to track humorous and offbeat stories and report them in the Daily News or in a blog. One of the stories I remember, in particular, was about a temporary worker in Japan who became angry at his staffing firm and called the firm 10,000 times before he was arrested.
Q: Sounds like he would have been perfect for a call center. You also cover the legal beat. Tell us about the monthly “Legs & Reg Advisor” report.
CJ: The “Legs & Reg Advisor” is written by attorneys at Littler Mendelson, the largest employment and labor law firm exclusively representing management in the United States. We edit it here at Staffing Industry Analysts, and it’s available on our Website for corporate members. It’s aimed at providing information on legislative, legal and regulatory activities that impact staffing.
Q: And there was a special report on healthcare reform and how staffing firms should handle it …
CJ: That’s right. It was written by George Reardon, special counsel at Littler Mendelson and former general counsel at Adecco Group North America. The report details the impact of the new healthcare reform legislation and discusses options available to staffing firms. One of the largest impacts on staffing firms will likely be the new fees for companies that don’t provide qualifying healthcare coverage to full-time workers. Those fees are scheduled to take effect in 2014.
Q: Looking forward, what do you think will be the big stories of 2011?
CJ: Healthcare reform will still be newsworthy, as the details keep developing. But the biggest stories are the ones you don’t see coming. That’s why they call it the news. [Laughter]. So we’ll have to wait and see, but whatever it is we’ll be on it.