Twenty years ago Jason Baker started as a warehouse technician at S-E-A Ltd., the company his father helped co-found.
S-E-A, which stands for Scientific Expert Analysis, is a leader in forensics analysis, investigation and production testing. Its engineers, scientists, investigators and researchers are involved in virtually every kind of loss-related occurrence.
Baker, who later went into sales and operations, is now the company’s president and CEO.
“The reality is anybody here that’s not a technical engineer, anybody that you would consider overhead, our job is to make the engineers and our business development staff — our job is to make their jobs better,” he says. “So you do whatever you have to do to make that happen.”
The company recently finished its new four-building corporate headquarters and testing campus, on a 48-acre site next to the Anheuser-Busch brewery. Baker says they’ve added staff since the opening to reach more than 260 employees, including people in 10 regional offices.
“We’re constantly looking for, not necessarily the first person, but we’re always looking for the right person,” he says. “We’ve had positions that will remain unfilled for two years because we can’t find the ideal person.”
Baker says he would rather tell clients that S-E-A couldn’t handle their need, than take on something improperly.
“Sometimes we turn work away or we lose a little bit of market share — we would rather make sure that we put the right person in place, as opposed to just getting revenue or not taking care of clients,” he says.
Investing for success
S-E-A’s biggest challenge is the one it has had for years — finding staff.
Not only do its employees have to be technically savvy, they have to be able to communicate technical terms in a form that a non-technical person can understand. That’s because S-E-A staff often testify in depositions or arbitration.
“We can find technically competent people all the time. It’s the other aspect that becomes very challenging,” Baker says.
In order to meet a challenge, employers often have to invest in the solution. At S-E-A, the company brought on a full-time recruiter two years ago. A licensed attorney who understands the litigation world, she is fully dedicated to the task of recruitment.
Previously, S-E-A used outside recruiters, but because the company is so selective it didn’t have all of their attention, Baker says. Outside recruiters could make more money by placing people elsewhere, places that hired more often.
S-E-A also puts its new hires through an extensive training period, which Baker feels is unrivaled in the industry.