Professional Search Services: What Shoes Are You Trying To Fill?

October 3rd, 2018

ABR Employment Services, a Wisconsin based staffing agency serving the Midwest, has spent the past 30 years honing its unique ability to serve clients in a best practice approach garnering accolades and awards along the way. Jim McNett, Chief Executive Officer, has spent 20 of those years personally overseeing the strategic development of ABR. McNett takes pride in what he describes as the organization’s organic growth. “We are known for customer service excellence,” he shared. And, in a bid to continue ABR’s growth, the organization recently added a professional search division in order to meet increasing demands outside of its traditional service offerings.

Meet ABR

Headquartered in Madison, ABR has 12 operating units, including a presence in MN. The long-established staffing firm provides staffing support for manufacturing, skilled industrial, HR, professional office support, logistics, scientific lab, and accounting positions.

 Additionally, ABR acquired Kinsa Group a decade ago, a recruitment agency with a national presence specializing in executive placement in the food and beverage industry.

ABR has received the Best of Staffing™ Award eight years in a row and is the only Wisconsin staffing agency with multiple branch locations to receive the Double Diamond Award. And Kinsa Group was recognized this year as one of Forbes’ Best Professional Recruiting Firms.

Growing Professional Search

Yet with all of the growth and successes, McNett knew they could do more. “We determined over the last few years that there was a huge need for professional to mid-level management positions that was a missed opportunity,” he explained.

ABR has built its base on filling support positions, both in the manufacturing and office settings. “You’re talking pay rates of $11 to $20 an hour—non-exempt, hourly positions,” explained McNett. “Then you have Kinsa Group that is doing managerial to executive searches—$90,000 to $200,000+ salaries.”

But these polar opposite roles left gaps. ABR clients are successfully filling warehouse and administrative positions, but aren’t receiving assistance for higher level openings. On the flip side, Kinsa Group is turning out executive level candidates, but can’t fulfil mid-level requests. “They would get a request for a $60,000 Production Supervisor but that would be below their level,” said McNett. “They don’t do that.”

These gaps meant that recruiters were turning down hundreds and hundreds of jobs from clients. “They weren’t quite in our funnels,” McNett explained. “This was a lot of lost revenue and our clients were going elsewhere when we knew we could probably do this ourselves with focused recruiters with the right skills.”

McNett rolled out a strategic plan and began a testing phase with a recruiter specifically working these jobs that had previously been lost in the gap. He quickly found that the need was greater than they had originally thought. “In talking with clients, we determined there really was a need for that mid-level, $45,000 to $80,000 salary realm,” shared McNett. “There was really no one doing well with that. There were some trying to do it, and big exec groups saying they were doing it, but they really didn’t want to spend time on it.”

But ABR is willing to spend the time and put forth the effort, and testing paid off. “We had great success in finding and placing these people,” McNett shared. “We decided to move forward and to brand a separate division that can really complement what ABR and Kinsa Group is doing and that can provide our clients a full array of services to get them anything they need, from entry level to executive level, through one resource.”

Goals

The professional search division is kicking off with two recruiters who are officially targeting the $45,000 to $80,000 salary range of professional to mid-level manager positions. McNett hopes to be at full staff by the end of the year—a team of four—with revenue that supports that goal.

“We will start out primarily as a recruiting partner in the Midwest,” he added. “But I hope to see us expand that footprint outside of just the Midwest in two to three years.”

Within a few weeks of launching the division, the recruiting team has placed a Production Supervisor, Assistant General Manager, Quality Manager and Manufacturing Engineer. The team has also experienced an in-flux of inquiries and resumes from candidates actively searching for their next professional opportunity.

Ultimately, McNett would like to see ABR Professional Search as a comparable and complimentary division to Kinsa Group and to become known as a national recruiting partner at the professional to mid-level manager sector in the way that Kinsa Group is seen at the executive level in the food and beverage industry.

“We are all part of the same company,” he concluded. “We are a very cooperative organization set on success.”

What Shoes Are You Trying To Fill?

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