When J.J. Hurley opened his executive recruitment firm in 2001, his focus was on the information technology staffing field in the Tulsa market.
Six and a half years later, his firm, GDH Consulting, 4200 E. Skelly Drive, Ste. 650, has nine offices in five states and was this year cited as the fifth fastest-growing private staffing company by industry observer Staffing Industry Analysts.
His is one of several executive search firms that have found fertile ground in the Tulsa market.
Hurley, president of GDH, attributed his firm’s success to “the internal recruiting power and experience that we have on our teams both locally as well as in our regional offices.”
So, he has used recruiting to build a strong recruiting business.
“The key for us and our growth is going to be our internal recruiters,” he said. “That sounds pretty easy and pretty generic, but our product is changing everyday. Where the strength of a recruiting firm comes in, is that we are constantly available and able to tell our clients, ‘Here are the best candidates in this market,’ and to do that you have to have experienced recruiters who are constantly in interaction with high-level candidates, constantly talking to the market and understanding where the real drivers are between certain skill sets as well as certain experience levels with certain companies.”
To be eligible for the Staffing Industry Analysts ranking, a company must be privately held, U.S. headquartered and independently owned, with annual sales of at least $1 million in 2002. The 2007 ranking is based on an average of the company’s percentage of revenue increases each year from 2002 through 2006.
GDH Consulting reported 2006 revenue of $17.5 million and average annual growth of 92 percent for the five-year period. The firm’s performance out-paced the No. 6 ranked company on the list by 17 percent and trailed the fourth place competitor by only 3 percent.
Named to Inc. magazine’s fastest growing companies in America list in 2005 and 2006, the firm has 55 internal employees and 220 consultants. GDH Consulting operates offices in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Bartlesville, Dallas, Houston, Memphis, Orlando, Little Rock and Lowell, Ark.
GDH is an information technology, finance and accounting staffing firm, servicing commercial and government clients.
Focus on the Regional Market
By year-end, Tulsa-based executive search firm The Addison Group, 9216 S. Toledo Ave., will double in size from a year ago, said David Moore, founding partner.
Opened in Tulsa five years ago, The Addison Group expanded to Oklahoma City two years ago. The firm is opening an office in Houston in November, growing from 15 employees one year ago to 30 by the end of the year, he said.
“We have grown significantly in staff and we have also grown significantly with our business as well,” Moore said. “Our client base has become very diverse, which we are very excited about.”
The Addison Group has primarily focused on IT and accounting and finance staffing solutions but is expanding into other fields, he said.
“We are opening up new lines of business. This month we are opening up a branch of our business to place administrative temporaries as well as temp-to-hire and permanent employees within clerical and administrative,” Moore said.
The firm also moved into the engineering arena two years ago “because of the need for quality drafters, designers, engineers,” he said. “Engineering and administrative are the two areas we are really focusing on right now as new niches for us.”
He said the Houston office will locate in the Westchase commercial district next to the energy corridor.
“That is very important to our business,” Moore said. “Being in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, there are a lot of sister companies in Houston that we do business with. Primarily they are energy companies, but Houston is huge and there is lots of opportunity for our company there as well.”
The company plans growth into other regional markets as well.
“We will probably open up a second office in Houston and then we will go to Dallas,” Moore said. “And then we will come back up to this area and north to Kansas City. That will be our north-to-south stretch from Kansas City on down to Houston. Our plan is to keep growing and to stay right here in Tulsa.”
The New Kid on the Block
With 15 years of experience in the staffing industry, Travis Jones, CEO of Career Development Services Inc., thinks it is time to bring a new executive search firm into the Tulsa market.
The firm is not technically new, since it opened in 1988. Jones purchased Career Development Services two years ago, but has only been able to take charge of the company this year after observing a one-year, non-compete agreement after the sale of his previous staffing firm, Personnel Consultants, two years ago.
He brings to Career Development Services the style of management that grew Personnel Consultants to a $24 million-a- year revenue company by the time he sold it to national firm PeopleLink Staffing in 2005.
“It was an exciting company,” he said, noting it was ranked the 135th fastest growing privately held business in America in 2001 by Inc. “I think we had had about a 1,760 percent growth in four years.”
Jones, who is president of the Oklahoma Association of Personnel Consultants, said he brings a different tact to the staffing business.
“We are what they call a generalist,” he said. “Most people in our industry are specialists. We specialize in our customers and that is the difference. We don’t have a niche per se or individual area of expertise such as accounting or engineering. Our expertise is: ‘Tell us what your needs are and we will do our best to help take care of whatever those needs are.’”
Although a primary focus of his companies has been outplacement services, Jones has found a ready link to executive recruitment services.
“When we would talk to companies about outplacement, even when they were laying people off, they usually had needs for other employees,” he said. “It came as a result of people asking us, ‘Can you help us find someone in some other area?’”
“It is kind of a natural fit because you are dealing with the same type of people – you are looking at their overall picture of where they are going,” he said. “Companies that understand outplacement are forward-thinking companies. Some of these employees they may have to lay off at this point because they are not a fit, but that does not mean they are not going to be a fit down the road. If they take care of them now with outplacement services, there is a good possibility that they may be rebound employees.”
Although he would not reveal revenue numbers, Jones said the firm “has probably tripled in size this year over last year. We hope to be at least four times by the end of the year.”
After having only one employee in the summer of 2006, he said the firm now has four full-time and one part-time employees with four “virtual” recruiters who work online and two people in India who qualify candidates overnight for job orders.
“We are beginning to see the groundwork for tremendous growth,” he said.
A Tight Market is a Good Market
Recruiters said their firms are busy due to a tightening of available candidates for executive positions.
“Yes, drastically,” said Hurley. “A lot of our recruiting efforts are focused on finding candidates, because the market is so tight in Tulsa.”
“In our industry, what makes us good, is we talk to people who aren’t always looking for a job right now,” he said. “That way we are able to learn what somebody wants to be able to achieve in a career, and they may not even be looking for a job today, but we may hear of an opportunity that is not public knowledge, that might be a wonderful fit for them professionally, and we are able to offer that to them.”
Moore said there is a shortage of IT, accounting and finance and engineering talent.
“It’s across the board,” he said. “There are a lot more opportunities right now than there are people.”
“I think the growth of the industry as a whole has been spurred by a need for quality talent,” he said.
He said The Addison Group strives to remain flexible so it can respond quickly when it sees new trends.
“We like the size of our company,” Moore said. “It keeps us agile so we can change when we see opportunities in one industry.” ?