SBN Staff

The U.S. economy has been volatile to say the least in the past few years, and tumult in markets across the globe is chipping away at companies’ already shaky confidence, which has stalled hiring.

However, some industries are seeing orders or requests for service start to increase, which requires companies in these fields to try to keep up with demand using a pared-down work force. That’s where staffing agencies have been able to lend a hand.

However, the impending implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is likely to have an impact on workers’ compensation benefits, a program for which many staffing and professional employment organizations take responsibility. While the consequences are uncertain, employers and staffing agencies are taking measures to provide safer workplaces to reduce claims but are otherwise bracing for its potential impact.

Smart Business spoke with Hayden Smith, account executive and consultant with Solid Agency, LLC, about how staffing firms have been faring in this choppy economy.

How has employment been impacted by economic uncertainty?

There have been some positive trends in the staffing industry. Temporary and contract employment has grown 24.8 percent since the beginning of 2012, according to the American Staffing Association. There are certainly many rosy predictions and forecasts for the temporary industry, with the consensus saying good times are ahead for well-operated firms.

Since September 2008, 88 percent of employers have either maintained or increased the size of their nonemployee workforce and ASA reports that temporary and contract staffing employment jumped 24 percent in May.

Further, reports indicate more college-educated professionals and managers have been hired than blue-collar workers in the past years, signaling that contract workers have become the go-to solution for companies across industries.

This comes at a time when only 23 percent of U.S. companies say they plan to add staff in the next six months. That figure is down from the 39 percent of companies that planned on hiring when they were surveyed in April. Clearly, companies are exhibiting caution when it comes to adding costs, such as those incurred when hiring full-time, permanent workers, while the global and U.S. economies stand on shaky ground.

Workers’ compensation is a significant cost often covered by staffing agencies.

How are recent events impacting this program?

Workers’ compensation coverage is the second-largest expense behind payroll for temporary agencies.

When employers use temporary workers, they can avoid the possibility of having workers’ compensation claims made against them as contract workers are covered through the agency’s program. However, the Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act could impact the current workers’ compensation program. For instance, there is some speculation that frivolous claims made by workers could drop as more are provided health care coverage with which to get treatment, instead of filing a fraudulent workers’ compensation claim. A study that examined the impact of health care reform on workers’ compensation medical care in Massachusetts found that health care reform could reduce workers’ compensation billing volume and costs. However, it’s unclear how the findings will apply across states mandated to abide by the Affordable Care Act.

Additionally, alternative markets available for the temporary industry to secure valid coverage have continued to grow and can offer cost effective, tailored methods other than traditional methods of workers’ compensation.

The temporary agency that does not manage its workers’ compensation very carefully will eventually find out how important this expense is to its bottom line.

How can the number of workers’ compensation claims be reduced for a temporary staffing agency?

While accidents cannot be completely eliminated, several processes and procedures can be used to help reduce the number of accidents and injuries, and possibly stop fraudulent claims.

Implementing a proven best-hiring practices program is first on the list. In depth pre-hire and post-offer questionnaires will help in deciding the type of work for which a temporary employee is capable. A drug-free workplace is another key component but only if the program is well managed by the employer. Also, most states offer premium discounts for drug-free workplace programs.

Another risk-reducing element that every business needs is a formal written safety program. However, this can be difficult for a multi-industry temp agency to provide. A thorough job description from the client employer will aid in the task of understanding risks and managing safety. Additionally, use these job descriptions with the aforementioned post-offer questionnaire, so client employers receiving qualified labor will be more confident using the services of a diligent temp agency.

A managed care organization is another helpful tool of a well-managed workers’ compensation program. When put in place and enforced, these can help reduce the total number of compensable workers’ compensation injuries. However, if a temporary employee is never informed and updated about the procedures of his or her workers’ compensation program, all will be for naught.

Ultimately, providing a safe workplace for employees is the responsibility of the employer. If employees are hurt, regardless of whether they are temporary or permanent, your bottom line could potentially suffer in several ways, including higher workers’ compensation premiums, loss of production and a negative impact on overall employee morale.

Proper planning, efficient management and complete implementation of components available to the staffing industry can help you avoid ‘the ugly’ in the future.

Hayden Smith is an account executive and consultant for Solid Agency, LLC. Reach him at (678) 460-2965 or hsmith@solidagencyins.com.

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Chris Irion, CEO, e-Cycle

Give us an example of a business challenge you and/or your organization faced, as well as how you overcame it.

A great challenge for e-Cycle was differentiating itself in the B-to-B marketplace and build our brand as the the most trusted wireless buyback, data security and recyclingcompany in the world. This was critical when engaging the top Fortune companies. One way we overcame this challenge was to invest considerable time, energy, and resources to become the first mobile recycling company in the world to become e-Stewards® certified. Only electronics recyclers that adhere to the highest global standards of environmental protection and worker safety are e-Stewards certified.

In what ways are you an innovative leader, and how does your organization employ innovation to be on the leading edge?

The true innovation at e-Cycle resides in the quality people that we hire. As we expand our services nationwide and globally, hiring only "A" players is the key to e-Cycle's success. Every e-Cycle employee must meet specific criteria that align with our core values and culture. Greatness at e-Cycle can only be achieved when we hire the most innovative team members to grow with our company. To do less would allow mediocrity to take place.

How do you make a significant impact on the community and regional economy?

e-Cycle has purchased and recycled more than eight million devices since 2005 and paid its clients more than $15 million in revenues to offset the cost of upgrading their workforces with the latest technologies. By ensuring these devices did not end up in landfills, we have prevented the contamination of up to 32,000,000,000,000 gallons of water (one cell phone in a landfill can contaminate up to 40,000gallons of water), reduced greenhouse gas emissions equal to taking 22,400 cars off the road for a year, saved enough energy to power a laptop for 35,200,000,000 hours and provide 144,480 households with electricity for anentire year, and we prevented the release of 511,200 pounds of lead into the environment. We have created 102 jobs in Central Ohio and throughout the U.S. and hope to add another 50 jobs by early 2013. From 2010 to 2012, e-Cycle contributed more than $300,000 to charities on behalf of e-Cycle clients, solely from revenues from mobile phone recycling.

Chris Irion is the CEO of e-Cycle.

Rusty Ranney, President & CEO, Live Technologies LLC

Give us an example of a business challenge you and/or your organization faced, as well as how you overcame it.

We have a division in our company that we call Systems Integration. This division offers audio, video, lighting and conference solutions to theaters, arenas, boardrooms and training facilities, mostly in the university and healthcare markets. This division always did pristine work but failed to make a profit because they were mostly focused on “just getting the job done at any cost.” When A&S Investments bought out the director of this division and consolidated the leadership under the BOD and the CEO’s management, we were able to change the culture to one of process and discipline. Today that division is a significant revenue producer and is getting very good at managing costs and the difficult construction timelines. They have become significant contributors to the profitability of the company and YTD revenues the past 2 years have gained 16 percent in 2011 and 36 percent this year. This group has improved their capabilities with every new hire and most importantly, the associates in this division have played a very active part in defining how we do everything better.

In what ways are you an innovative leader, and how does your organization employ innovation to be on the leading edge?

I am not a traditional business school trained person, rather I began in this industry as a concert lighting designer so I have always relied upon my creativity and abilities as a problem solver to lead the company. That doesn’t mean it’s all “Rock and Roll” around here, any great production has an amazing amount of forethought and planning to make it look seamless to the audience. We rely on our show management abilities time and again to hit all the “cues,” whether it is managing our financial needs or providing unique and creative solutions delivered flawlessly to our clients. We rely heavily on and invest commensurately in some of the latest amazing technologies to differentiate ourselves and we desire to train our associates to apply these technologies at the highest levels.

How do you make a significant impact on the community and regional economy?

You will see the “Live” logo listed as a sponsor for almost every major charity and community event in the Columbus local and Ohio regions. We are creative with our clients on how they can get the most value from our services, whether it is a highly produced event or a like-kind donation that helps fit a budget for a growing event. We are very aware of the impact our productions can have on fund-raising activities and we pride ourselves in helping plan events that convey the right message at the right value.

Rusty Ranney is the president and CEO of Live Technologies LLC

C. Bronson Jones, VP & General Manager, Banner Metals Group

Give us an example of a business challenge you and/or your organization faced, as well as how you overcame it.

The terrorist attacks of 9/11 caused a significant disruption in our business. Considering the vast majority of our business was aerospace related, we needed to re-focus our market concentrations to become less dependent on a single industry.

We aggressively pursued markets that could use our core processes (metal stampings and welded assemblies) to diversify our product mix.

In what ways are you an innovative leader, and how does your organization employ innovation to be on the leading edge?

My leadership position has always been to lead by example and allow others to take their own calculated risks and learn from their mistakes.

Our organization has a very strong customer focus and encourages their involvement in product/process design in addition to employee empowerment and involvement programs.

How do you make a significant impact on the community and regional economy?

We are committed to proactive environmental policies and to purchase materials and services from local sources.

C. Bronson Jones is the vice president and general manager of Banner Metals Group

Janet Jackson, President & CEO, United Way of Central Ohio

Give us an example of a business challenge you and/or your organization faced, as well as how you overcame it.

The economic downturn presented a significant challenge to United Way of Central Ohio. Our annual fundraising campaign decreased substantially from what had been record highs while at the same time the need for services increased as the impact of the downturn was felt by more of our friends and neighbors. It was clear to us that we needed to do things differently.

We took a very strategic approach and examined how we interact with our donors and committed to deepening our understanding of the community’s aspirations around the issues of education, income, health and home.

We re-organized our fundraising activities to engage more effectively with all of our corporate partners, and placed renewed emphasis on reaching out to businesses we did not have a relationship with, as well as individual donors.

Our commitment to supporting volunteerism was significantly increased to meet the needs of our supporters who were anxious to give their time to improve the community. Working with our partners, we now have volunteer opportunities posted on our website and through social media.

We have expanded the number and diversity of our affinity groups to engage more people. For example, we launched the Women's Leadership Council to reach out to local women leaders; Pride Council and Pride Gives — the first United Way LGBT giving groups in the country; and GenNext, which mobilizes young volunteers. All of these efforts have helped us exceed our campaign goals for the past two years.

Our commitment to deep listening and developing an understanding of community aspirations, led United Way to hold small group conversations with hundreds of individuals across Central Ohio. This dialogue has been invaluable in its ability to inform our community impact work. We are now in the process of using this knowledge along with what we know from experts and research better target our investments on those areas that will have the greatest impact in Central Ohio.

In what ways are you an innovative leader, and how does your organization employ innovation to be on the leading edge?

There is no leadership or innovation without risk. One of my mentors and sheroes, Marian Wright Edelman, the founder and president of The Children's Defense Fund, says this about taking risks:

"Don't be afraid of failing. It's the way you learn to do things right. It doesn't matter how many times you fall down. What matters is how many times you get up." I and United Way's volunteer leadership are able to innovate because we are willing to take calculated risks to improve the way we do things.

We are continually seeking to learn from others and refine our efforts so that we continue to be effective in advancing the change necessary to improve lives and strengthen our community. In my time as president and CEO, we have transformed almost every aspect of our organization. Most significantly, we developed and focused on key strategies and helped our community set concrete, bold goals for our future.

How do you make a significant impact on the community and regional economy?

Our community and our economy are only as strong as the people and the families that make it up. When people don't have the opportunities they need to succeed we all suffer. When people have access to the building blocks of a good life — education, income, health and home — they can build stable lives and help create a stronger community.

Through United Way, our donors, advocates and volunteers help provide the opportunities people need to succeed. I strongly believe this has a positive impact on our regional economy, and that the work United Way supports is crucial for our region's future success.

Janet Jackson is the president and CEO of United Way of Central Ohio.

Oil Field Services, Award Recipient

As CEO of Oil States International Inc., Cindy Taylor leads by example, demonstrating her high standards and dedication to transparency.

Key to Oil States’ success has been her ability to leverage the talents of the many people within the company. Taylor believes in “distributive leadership,” which requires the retention of experienced, qualified personnel and employment of new talent as times change. These two groups are blended together to achieve the most favorable result.

Taylor also focuses on the well-being of the more than 7,900 employees at the oilfield services company, striving to maximize shareholders’ value and build and maintain long-term relationships on trust and integrity.

Taylor manages the company as if everyone on the team is family. She has had little to no turnover at the executive level during her tenure as CEO. Most of executive management has been with Oil States for more than 10 years.

This has led to specialization and a unique commitment from all team members. Taylor has developed a team of experienced individuals who understand and practice the company’s commitments and are focused to achieving a common goal.

Taylor has a busy schedule as a CEO and mother of three boys but still finds time and resources to give back to the community. She is especially active in local community organizations that impact children and their development.

Her community involvements include board positions and fundraising support for organizations such as St. John’s Catholic Church, the facilities advisory committee to the Columbia Brazoria Independent School District, West Columbia Little League, West Columbia Youth Basketball Association, Boy Scouts of America, United Way of Brazoria County, the Brazoria County Chapter of the American Red Cross and Texas Children’s Hospital.

How to reach: Oil States International Inc., www.oilstatesintl.com

Saturday, 30 June 2012 20:00

Brian Fielkow, president, Jetco Delivery

Logistics & Industrial Services, Finalist

In 2006, Brian Fielkow risked his entire net worth and purchased Jetco Delivery.

The purchase fulfilled Fielkow’s dream of owning his own business — a dream that hasn’t wavered, even when he and the company faced the Great Recession a few years ago.

As the trucking industry slid to a halt, Fielkow worked tirelessly to ensure Jetco did not fall victim. Instead, he focused on what Jetco could control, promised not to lay off employees, committed to keeping employees and customers involved and informed and invested in technology and Jetco’s fleet, capitalizing on his clients’ needs and taking advantage of a weakened market.

Fielkow had the resources available to invest in Jetco’s fleet during the recession by properly managing the company’s balance sheet and ensuring his lender was aware and supportive of his plan to not only survive but thrive.

His decision to take a contrarian approach proved worthwhile. Because Jetco stayed true to its employees and customers, they remained dedicated to Jetco. The downturn enabled Jetco to cement and redefine customer relationships.

These loyal relationships have enabled Fielkow to challenge industry conventions and change many aspects of the business. Jetco now features GPS in all of its trucks, has one of the youngest fleets in the region and uses technology aggressively to create value for customers.

In addition to relationships with employees and customers, Fielkow has also formed relationships within the community. Jetco donated a trailer to Junior Achievement for its mobile finance park, and Fielkow is a member of the organization’s board of directors.

In addition, through Junior Achievement’s job shadow program, Jetco regularly welcomes students to its office, showing them a day in the life in the logistics industry. Jetco also supports the Children’s Assessment Center annually through its Christmas toy drive.

How to reach: Jetco Delivery, www.jetcodelivery.com

Logistics and Industrial Supplies -- Finalist

One of Carolyn Doerle’s biggest strengths is her management style. She blends being a bold decision-maker with being intuitive at the same time. She believes a leader must be able to make informed decisions in a timely manner.

In 2003, Doerle made the decision to buy out her father and family to become the sole owner and CEO of Doerle Food Services LLC, an independent food distributor. Under Doerle’s leadership, the company has grown revenue 800 percent. That growth is due in part to one of Doerle’s riskiest decisions but also the company’s largest turning point —she purchased a new facility in Broussard that was nearly five times the size of their current facility in New Iberia, without the demand to utilize it.

Within three months of purchasing the new distribution center in Broussard, an opportunity presented itself. The Sonic and Subway chains of Louisiana and Mississippi approached Doerle Foods. Doerle had six weeks to demonstrate it had the infrastructure to meet the contract specifications. In those six weeks, Doerle expanded its new plant to full operation, hired and trained more than 100 new employees, purchased 28 new trucks and 40 trailers and hired truck drivers from all over Louisiana, resulting in both the Sonic and Subway contracts. The company still has those contracts today.

Doerle has lived by her philosophy, “An opportunity is never lost; if you don’t take it, then someone else will.” The company’s business depends upon all its resources operating efficiently and effectively. Doerle and her management team pride themselves on being nimble and flexible for their customers. The company’s ability to provide what its customers need on short notice is what sets it apart from the large foodservice providers.

How to each: Doerle Food Services LLC, www.doerlefoods.com

AWARD RECIPIENT / TECHNOLOGY

As a former U.S. Navy member in the field of technology, Adam Jay Harrison knows first hand the value of defensive technology to the survival of deployed soldiers. His passion for helping protect those who serve in the military eventually led him to award-winning success guiding a special endeavor for the Department of the Army, focused on the rapid deployment of new technologies into the battlefield.

But Harrison felt limited in his ability to change the way the Department of Defense acquired new technologies. He wanted to do even more. So in 2007, he personally funded and cofounded Mav6 LLC. The Vicksburg, Miss.-based company develops and incubates rapidly conceived, concept-to-implementation technology solutions designed for “edgefighters” — those at the front lines of war.

As managing director, Harrison has been able to successfully differentiate Mav6 from competitors by deviating from industry norms. The company focuses on leveraging and enhancing existing technologies as opposed to spending a lot of time and money on research and development.

It also deviates from the 100-percent-tested standard, operating under the idiom that a 70 percent solution delivered when it’s needed is better than a 100 percent solution delivered too late.

But most notably, Mav6 is different because the company doesn’t cater to Department of Defense specifications. Instead, the company reaches out directly to its products users — soldiers in the field — while leveraging an extended network of collaborators across industries and academia.

Mav6 used its design-based business model to develop the soon-to-be-launched M1400 airship. The M1400 is equipped with advanced technology that allows the airship to gather, sort and distribute valuable information more efficiently and at a much-reduced cost. When completed, the airship will be the largest unmanned aircraft ever to fly. ?

HOW TO REACH: Mav6 LLC, www.mav6.com

Logistics and Industrial Services – Finalist

Sometimes in business you have to follow your gut feeling. That is exactly what John Magee had to do when making the tough decision to leave his former company. When Magee’s previous logistics company was faced with a hostile takeover from a private equity company, he saw things he couldn’t tolerate.

Magee felt he needed to create a place where maintaining integrity, caring about ethics and making decisions that allow you to hold your head high meant something. Along with a group of others in executive and leadership positions, Magee walked away from the multibillion business to start a new company. While waiting out a one year nonsolicitation agreement, he developed a strategic plan and a character statement and Crane Worldwide Logistics was born.

Magee, who serves as president of the full-service shipping and logistics company, defined this new organization’s internal culture to be customer-centric, responsible, attentive, operating with integrity and flawless execution. While some may have thought it foolish, Magee embarked without any guarantees. There were no contracts, no salary and no prospects — all during the Great Recession.

Failure wasn’t an option and with the support of eight others who believed in Magee’s vision, he knew success could happen. His vision was to be a global, midsized company that offers personalized customer service and flexibility above and beyond what small companies offer, while creating a global network strong enough that Fortune 500 customers would want to do business.

In August 2008, Crane Worldwide acquired three companies pushing the business to 100 employees in 12 offices, in seven countries. The business has grown organically in more than three years and has now expanded to more than 1,000 employees in 75 offices in 21 countries. Magee expects to reach 120 offices in 35 countries over the next few years.

How to reach: Crane Worldwide Logistics, www.craneww.com