In 1997, a few years into the business, I came up with an idea to create an awards program for HR departments. I felt that HR got a lot of criticism but not a lot of kudos. I started the HR Department of the Year Awards and we have been going strong for 18 years now. Many companies have participated and its been a very successful program and continues to be so.
From 1995, when I started the business, to 2001 was a period of huge growth not only for us but for the economy in general . This was the internet bubble. I had hung a picture of the cover of the Inc. 500 in my office and made myself a commitment to get on the list. I met the goal in the year 2000. The award is based on 5 years of explosive revenue growth, we were number 146. I had about 15 people working directly for me and close to 100 contractors. I thought I was invincible.
However, what goes up must go down. After September 11th, the economy went into a recession and my business crashed, along with the internet bubble and a lot of other businesses. I had to take apart what I had built and lay off many of the core team. It wasn’t pleasant. But many of you in the HR profession understand the expansion and contractions of business, and the impact on people. Just talk to our friends in the outplacement business.
In retrospect I took the contraction way too personal, and it affected me greatly. We went through a very slow period for several years, but eventually the business started to come back again. We had another explosive growth spurt from 2003 to 2008. Around 2005, I decided that I was getting bored with the business and I wanted to start another business, I started a holistic learning center called Transformations. I left the core business and hired someone to run it while I tried to bring holistic health services to the area.
My idealism was admirable, but my business timing couldn’t be worse. The great recession was starting. My core business crashed again, and I couldn’t get the holistic center on a path to profitability. I was burning cash in both businesses. In 2009 I closed down the holistic center and went back to the core business. I held on until the great recession ended, and we started to recover around 2010.
During this period I decided that I wanted to write a book . I ended up writing a book called “Wisdom at the Top” where I interviewed 35 CEOs about leadership and wisdom.
One of the main themes from the book related to HR were that the most successful CEOS get the importance of HR and value what the function does for the business. CEOs included Bill Mcdermott of SAP, Dave Yost from AmerisourceBergen, Howard Stoeckel of Wawa and Joe Frick from IBC .
From 2010 to today, I decided to keep my model simpler. I made a commitment to just focus on HR staffing. Many companies try to be everything to everyone, and I didn’t feel that was effective. We have a small core team consisting of myself, Marlyn Bennett my Recruiter, Sherri Meyer my Office Manager and Lynda Cusano my Marketing person. I do sales, marketing, ops, finance. I like the diversity. We utilize contract recruiting support when we need it.
I am grateful to my family for their support, to my staff, to my strategic partners, to my clients and candidates and placements and to the HR community . At 56, I’m healthy and engaged in life and my business and I look forward to another 20 years (at least). The logo will then look like this-