It’s hard to believe that our company has been involved in the staffing industry for 30 years. As I look back there are so many fond memories of the people that we have worked with. The best part of working with the staffing industry is the people. The people of staffing are innovative so we can always try new things. Staffing people are vocal, so they tell us what they want and need. Staffing people think big so we are challenged daily by their requests. Staffing people are strong and never give up. We have lived with them through recessions, floods, hurricanes, 911 and more. Staffing leads the way, has gone through much yet always comes out on top.
First I would like to thank Steve and Paula Kutka for letting us reminisce a bit about the past, the present and the future of staffing. We began working with Mike Kutka, the founder of staffdigest, in the 80’s. Staffdigest has historically been one of the most respected publications in the staffing industry and ABD as a company has always felt privileged to have a sound device for advertising our staffing software to the industry.
We were new to staffing in the 80’s and one of our early ads in staffdigest was a photo of a postcard written from a staffing owner. It was written as the owner was vacationing in Hawaii with no worries as Ulti-MATE Recruiting (the name of ABD’s staffing software at the time) was soundly in place efficiently operating at their organization. They ended the postcard greeting with, “Bring you back some pineapple”. Hokey, but effective. So effective, we repeated the same ad several years later.
In 1989 ABD joined the American Staffing Association and is currently one of the older vendor members. ASA has gone through some name changes but for ABD has been a strong affiliate for many years. Over the years ABD has also been a member of many of the other staffing organizations nationally. Personally, I have always been amazed at the variety of benefits the various groups have offered to their members. The staffing industry is fond of such groups and is very interested in education. It has been this way as long as I can remember.
The staffing industry has grown to be a major player in employment and I believe it is largely because of the continuing education, sharing of ideas within the industry and publications such as staffdigest and the ASA publications. It was interesting to see web presences established so that even more information could be shared. According to ASA, 2.8 million people are employed by staffing companies every business day and 12.9 million temporary and contract employees are hired by U.S. staffing companies over the course of a year. Billions of dollars of revenue are generated by staffing. ABD clients alone account for several billion in generated in revenue per year. It’s so astonishing to know that a product that we have developed is contributing to an industry in that way.
Working only with staffing has been the best decision that our company has ever made. We originally serviced wholesale distribution & manufacturing along with staffing. But after only a few years of working with staffing companies it was clear that total focus was necessary to service the industry which at first seemed “easy”. You find a person and place them – simple. Originally our staffing software was written for “perm placement” as it was called in those days. After working with a major company in the Chicago Area in the 80’s we discovered “temporary staffing” and suddenly our world became much more complicated and even more exciting.
Even though the early years were difficult as we were a new player, ABD learned quickly and our early clients helped us understand the business. One of our early clients was a nurse staffing company and that led to an early version of our medical staffing software model. One of the challenges but also one of the most interesting part of working with staffing is the variety. ABD has worked with staffing companies that staff light industrial, doctors, attorneys, librarians, truckers, media people, teachers, waiters and banquet staff, IT people, high level financial professionals and the list goes on. What is most interesting are the different needs of each group yet the basic sameness.
As an example of the industry’s “thirst for knowledge” we offered an “IBM / staffing software solution” in the 80’s and offered a seminar to learn more about it. ABD mailed out some fancy seminar invitations and about 150 people signed up for it. Because we did not expect such a large group we scheduled it to take place at our office. We had wall-to-wall people and rented tables for along the walls so that people could eat lunch. There were lines of people winding out of our front door to register upon entering. We didn’t think everyone would show up but even more than RSVP’d attended. No one seemed to mind the crowds and questions were plentiful. The people in the staffing industry are flexible, knowledgeable and pioneering. One of our fondest memories from that event was the person that came with a full-length mink coat. We were not sure where to hang it and spent a considerable time worrying that it might be stolen.
After that, we started our annual client meetings which have been a hit since the first meeting which we also had at our office. From the first client meeting where we had some memorable “very lively” discussion between two members of our client family in our conference room; to the large events we hold at the convention center and the Hyatt Hotel in Chicago, the ABD Annual Client Meeting has consistently been something to look forward to every year. Since we work nationally, only the trainers who go on site get to meet the customers so it is a very special treat to be able to talk to clients in person. Our knowledge sessions are extremely popular with customers and everyone has a very enjoyable day together.
30 years could not pass without thanking all of our competitors for many wonderful years of strong competition. In the early days we competed against Caldwell Spartan and DataForce, both industry greats. Since we were new in the early 80’s Caldwell Spartan would direct all of the clients that were not a good fit for them to ABD. We were grateful for the business and have always valued every client small or large. ABD was built on servicing all types and sizes of companies and it is very gratifying to see a client start out as a single user and grow to a multiple office operation.
So, what does one do to celebrate 30 years of working with staffing? First, we had contests on our LinkedIn and Facebook page. Clients who guessed answers to software questions received gift cards. Next, we had internal contests and awards for employees. Our employees are ABD and we appreciate all that they do so we celebrated them. The night before our client meeting we had an ABD 30 Year Anniversary cocktail party; with clients and business associates at the top of the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in the revolving tower featuring views of the Chicago Skyline. This year at our client meeting the opening presentation featured a historical depiction of ABD. ABD’s history was described, photos from all years were displayed, awards received throughout the years were mentioned and all historic software events were celebrated.
ABD was the first vendor nationally to connect over 50 PC’s to a single PC computers with multiple offices connected. ABD software was rewritten around 5 times throughout the years to stay current with technology. The staffing software was even renamed a few times from PC Recruiter, Ulti-MATERecruiting, Ultra-Staff Recruiting to its current and simple Ultra-Staff. We have gone from mini’s to PC’s to UNIX to Microsoft Windows and now we are in “the cloud”. Who would have thought?
Who would ever want to work anywhere else but the staffing industry? Thank you staffing industry for all that you have given to us. Here’s to another 30+years!
This article made an appearance in staffdigest magazine. www.staffdigest.com
Terri Roeslmeier is President of Automated Business Designs, Inc., software developer of Ultra-Staff staffing software for the staffing and direct hire industry. Ultra-Staff is a staffing software business solution with components for front office, back office, mobile and web suite. For more information on Ultra-Staff go to www.abd.net.