Carol Harris Featured

8:00pm EDT September 25, 2009
2009 Pacesetters Winner: Midsized | Established

When referring to the first office of Carol Harris Staffing LLC, you would have to use the term “office” loosely.

The working space was once a maintenance closet, but, as a single mother of two, it was the least expensive space Carol Harris could find to start her business. The founder, president and CEO of the full-service staffing firm painted, furnished and decorated the office herself. That was back in 1987 after Harris worked for eight years at a national staffing firm where she gained the knowledge and confidence to follow her entrepreneurial spirit and open an agency of her own.

Back then, she would network and manage sales during the day while her only employee answered phones at the office. In the evening, she went home to fill job orders for her new clients. She knew very early on that if CHS was going to succeed, its services would have to stand out and ultimately surpass its competitors in quality and customer service. As a result, Harris remained committed to exceeding the expectations of her clients and providing service they would remember. She still has that drive, and in 2008, the company achieved its best year, even in a struggling economy.

Harris’ creative thinking and innovation are what continue to guide the development of the groundbreaking specialized services and solutions offered by CHS. Just as Harris knew more than 20 years ago that CHS would need to stand out to succeed, the same is true today. In order to position itself above the competition, CHS maintains a diversity of service offerings that other staffing agencies don’t provide, such as targeted tax credit management, specialized safety programs, screening services, the creating of client-specific virtual tours, networking opportunities and continuing education consultations from an on-site American Staffing Association Certified Education Provider.

The launch of these specialized services under Harris’ forward-thinking leadership has been the driving force behind the company’s continued success through a difficult economic period. In the highly competitive staffing industry, broad-ranged, individualized services have created a distinct niche for the company. Harris also maintains a keen focus on creating opportunities for change through the development services she offers to others. By providing free training services to applicants and employees, Harris works to promote a more competent and highly skilled work force, which in turn benefits not only the individual but also the prospective employer and community as a whole.

As the company grows, Harris still has an eye on the development of her employees through no-cost training and continuing education initiatives. By promoting educational advancement, Harris assists others in realizing their potential and in opening doors for their own potential career advancement.

Harris is also a generous member of her community by giving back, as exemplified through her active involvement with Habitat for Humanity and other charitable organizations. As president of the Allegheny Valley Chapter of Habitat for Humanity, Harris leads by example, demonstrating the same hands-on approach that she applies to business. Harris has participated not only on a philanthropic and volunteer level but has also taken part in the physical building of the homes.

While many businesses limited or stopped their philanthropic and volunteer work in response to a murky economic outlook, Harris persevered in helping others.

She worked tirelessly to build partnerships in her local area with corporations who share her ideals and played an active role in the partnership between Allegheny Valley Habitat for Humanity and the Pittsburgh Mills Mall. They created a safe play area for local children as well as an innovative new venue for the annual Walk, Run and Ride events that provide valuable donations that directly benefit local families in need of housing. This focus on service represents a vastly different image from that of the acquisitive corporate leader that has become so widespread in the media.

Harris also donated $60,000 to help build a Habitat home for a single mother and her children in Braddock, Pa. Harris was personally recognized by Oprah Winfrey for this volunteer project, earning Oprah’s Angel Network Crystal Globe Award and appearing nationally on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” as a result.

Harris also sponsors the annual CHS Student Scholarship program, which provides generous financial support to CHS student employees as they pursue their educational goals.

Harris’ commitment to giving serves as an example of change for the others in the business community, and promotes a cooperative approach that more effectively connects businesses to the individuals they serve.

How to reach: Carol Harris Staffing LLC, (412) 856-3666 or