Team work

In 1997, Bruce Robbins founded TruStar Solutions, previously IIRC, and his brother, LeRoy Robbins, later joined the company to help grow it.

“My brother got the company going and got the concept up and running but needed someone to bring it to scale,” says Leroy Robbins of TruStar, a provider of customized recruiting solutions. “What he needed was exactly what my background was. He needed someone with leadership skills, had my HR experience and also my process skills.”

When Robbins joined TruStar in 2000, annual revenue was $1.3 million. By 2004 it had grown to $4.7 million — a 37.7 percent compound annual growth rate. The company is on track for its 2005 goal of $6.9 million, and Robbins is confident that there is more growth in TruStar’s future.

“We believe we can grow faster,” says Robbins, president and CEO. “There are some windows of opportunity in a couple of our markets that we want to take advantage of.”

Smart Business spoke with Robbins about the importance of a team environment and how he instills his core values in his employees.

What is the biggest obstacle that you have had to overcome as leader of a fast-growing company?
The biggest challenge is just keeping up with bringing in the talent that you need to have to be successful. Obviously, we are good at that because we work with our clients on that.

It’s also just challenging to have enough quality people as you grow. All of our growth has been internal. It’s been very measured, and we’re really beginning to pick up steam. The challenge now is to make sure that as we grow, we maintain those very strong core values that made us successful.

What are those core values?
One of the most important core values is being passionate about our clients. We ask everybody here, from myself all the way through the organization, ‘How do we operationalize being passionate about clients? What does that mean in the person’s role or my role? How does that manifest itself?’

In my situation, if I am really passionate about our clients, I need to have good relationships with most of our big clients. But everyone in our organization has to look at that and say, ‘So what does that mean for me?’

The next core value is being nimble and innovative. This recruiting space has grown so dramatically in terms of not only how people do it but what their needs are, how they change year to year and our ability to meet their needs all up and down that recruiting value chain.

Our goal is to customize. That’s one of the reasons we are able to get the business that we do.

What do you look for in employees and how do those characteristics benefit the company?
Talent is critical. We put people through a very stringent process that enables us to assess core values. Are they really resonating with our core values? Is their DNA similar to ours in terms of high integrity, being passionate about their client, being nimble and innovative, driving to succeed and wanting to grow their career? If they can resonate with those core values, then that is a good start.

We work within a team concept. If you can’t work within the team, you really can’t work at TruStar. The sum of our parts is always greater.

We have to have that synergy across people. The way we are able to do that is to make sure that people understand that during the selection process, we are evaluating them, but they need to know as much about us as they possibly can. It’s a two-way process.

Our way of thinking is that this is a covenant position. In this day and time, when people are leaving jobs left and right, we don’t want them to do that. We want them to want to stay.

I’m not nave enough to think that we are going to keep people for 20 or 30 years — that just doesn’t happen anymore. But while they’re here, we want them to be fully engaged and going all out in terms of applying their talent.

You have to give them meaningful work and a good relationship with their peers. Otherwise, you can’t keep them.

How do you communicate your team vision to your employees?
We try to live it. On the leadership team, it is a part of all of our evaluations.

Also, if someone is going out of their way and going the extra mile for a client, we want to recognize that in a public way. If someone is out there and does something that is nimble and innovative in solving a problem, we make sure people see that and they know that it is important.

We will walk away from business if we feel that integrity is a questionable issue there. If we feel that we can’t do the best job for them, then we won’t take it. We want their business, but more importantly, we want our clients to be successful.

HOW TO REACH: TruStar Solutions, (888) 547-4472 or