World Staffing Podcast

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World Staffing Podcast #2 with Simon Dealy, CEO of HIRE Technologies

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World Staffing Podcast #2 with Simon Dealy, CEO of HIRE Technologies

Welcome to the World Staffing Podcast where we speak with success-full staffing owners and operators to learn about the things that keep them up at night, their success stories, learnings and failures while building a successful staffing company and their thoughts on the future of the staffing market.

Jan meets Simon Dealy, CEO of Hire Technologies. They talk about his journey in the staffing industry, the M&A market, remote work and more. Simon also provides tips for starting your own staffing business.

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Intro: This is a brand new episode of the World Staffing Podcast. The interview podcast brought to you by Candidate.ly, where we meet with entrepreneurs, successful business owners and the greatest minds of the staffing industry. We're interested in what drives them, what inspires them. We want to know what their everyday work looks like and what keeps them up at night.

We should all learn from them and at the same time, have a good time. And this is your host, Jan Jedlinski.

Jan Jedlinski: Welcome to a brand new episode of the World Staffing Podcast, where I meet with entrepreneurs, successful business owners and the greatest minds of the staffing industry. I'm interested what drives them, what inspires them. And I want to know what their everyday looks like and what keeps them up at night.

My name is Jan and I'm your host for today. I'm very excited to welcome a very special guest for today's episode. He's from Australia years ago, he told me he traveled frequently to my hometown in Vienna, Austria to work as a consultant. That's why we both shared a love for good Wiener Schnitzel. And he's also the founder and CEO of Canada's only public consolidator of Staffing IT and HR consulting firms.

Welcome to the World Staffing Podcast, Simon.

Simon Dealy: Oh, thank you very much. It's a real pleasure to be here.

Jan Jedlinski: Thanks Simon, I'm super excited for this conversation. I have a ton of questions for you, but before we dive in, tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey into the staffing industry.

Simon Dealy: Yeah, it's a really interesting, like you mentioned, I was originally from Australia and back in 2000, my wife and I won a green card and the green card lottery and ended up moving to the US. Saturday night in Las Vegas for, to get the cultural center of America.

First came over. Ended up working at KPMG and I was working with some really amazing fortune 500 clients for, I got to do business process, redesign and change management and a bit of audit work as well. I ended up working, leaving there and working with a French company called Altram. They had bought a an internal audit firm called Control Solutions International.

They wanted me to work there and got to meet the ownership of that. And it was, it was a great company. It was on a very high growth trajectory. Ended up being a managing partner. And ultimately ended up buying that company to a management buyout with two other business partners of mine. And that was, again, it was a great opportunity for us.

It's one of those situations where you've got to be careful what you wish for. So I wanted a job that I got to travel the world and got paid to do it until I had a job where I got to travel the world and got paid to do it. Cause I realized going from airport to hotel, to client, to hotel, to airport and get fairly monotonous.

But as you mentioned in the opening. I've got to go to some amazing countries. You know, I was traveling all around the world, all through Europe and Asia and spent a lot of time in, in China and into Vienna and Germany and London and all these other places, cities, but too good to see some fantastic places and ended up selling that company to a public company a few years ago.

And then sort of did some more consulting work and then ultimately started what is now HIRE Technologies back in 2017. And it was great. It was just really good opportunity to keep doing this sort of work that I've been doing all my life, working professional services, and I thoroughly enjoy.

Jan Jedlinski: Great.

Thank you so much. Do you miss the travel over the last, you know, one and a half years? I guess you haven't traveled almost so it could, to be honest. No,

Simon Dealy: I really, it does get after over the years that I've, that I've done it, it gets a little bit old having to go to the airport and leave your family and do that sort of travel.

I do miss not getting to see my, my colleagues you know, the the headquartered out of out of Toronto and I live in Boston. So it's a bit challenging for me. Doing all of this through the video conference, but I've found a lot more efficiencies through this process as well. You can get a lot more done when you don't have the commute and, and that travel on top of it.

Jan Jedlinski: For sure. Do you think this will stay like that? What's what's your take on remote work and is HIRE Technologies is now fully remote. How do you handle it?

Simon Dealy: Yeah, certainly for us, we're fully remote some of the business units that we own have adopted more of a hybrid model. What was interesting for us and what we see with our candidates.

So we've got quite a few thousands of candidates in our pipeline here, going through the route, providing to clients and. Yeah, there was an initial, oh my goodness. I can't do this job from home. This is impossible until people got used to the idea and it sound like this is fantastic. There's a lot of flexibility.

I'm actually saving money. I'm not having to pay for my travel. We're getting into the office and the community and so on. And the flexibility that comes from it. So I think there's been a shift in mindset now. Where, if your job allows you to do it, there is a tendency to want to get a, continue to work from home, at least in a hybrid sort of situation where you're going to the office only a couple of days a week, rather than having to go in there all the time.

And we definitely see it with that candidate profiles and for clients who the clients are looking for, not just the closest best resource, but looking for the best resource and certainly in some areas where. There are skills shortages. Yeah, it is a good example of that. And a lot of US companies were actually looking north of the border into Canada to find the qualified resources that they need to fill their positions.

So I believe that if the company is able to do it, that the heartbeat works all is certainly here to stay. And there's a lot of efficiencies and cost savings that come from that for both the employer and the employee.

Jan Jedlinski: Yeah, I agree. And I think it's a great opportunity overall for the staffing industry as a staffing company, you can suddenly work with clients, internationally placed candidates, any country in the world enabled by technology and by employer of record services.

So I think that's a very interesting time for our industry overall, and it's going to be super exciting the next couple of years. I always love to ask the question and I know it's a little bit broad, but what keeps you up at night? These days as the CEO of a public traded staffing consideration?

Simon Dealy: Yeah, it's for me, it's really, you know, what HIRE Technologies does, you know, we're a capital allocator was doing consolidation strategy within staffing and SaaS technology and ITAC consulting.

So those are the three pillars that we're building out and it's really trying to make sure. So you keep your pulse on what are those disruptors that are coming what's what's the next thing that's going to be disruptive, especially to the staffing industry. Cause there's always a lot of talk about how technology could displace the recruiters and so on and keeping ahead of that, which is why we have this technology focus within our company as well.

So when we want to have that be creative and also allow us to be flexible in how we approaching the markets. So that is that those shifts in the market. Because for us, we'll other thing would be understanding the public markets. The public markets are fairly frothy at times. And even if you're producing fantastic numbers and you've got good growth numbers, it's also making sure that you keep in tune with what the street is doing and understanding that you've got these two elements that you have to play with.

And these are, this is certainly a balancing act for me in my role.

Jan Jedlinski: Cool. And you know, I'm, I'm very excited about HIRE Technologies. It's a model that fascinates me and I think I see it across many other industries, specifically real estate and insurance consolidation in staffing has been a topic for the last years.

But where do you see the vision for HIRE Technologies? Maybe you can talk a little bit about the company, what you guys are working on and where do you see it going in the next couple of years?

Simon Dealy: I mean, the staffing market itself globally is a $500 billion market. So it's huge. And there are literally thousands of staffing firms in North America alone.

There's something like 30,000 staff firms. There's not one huge, large incumbent in that market. I think the largest North American staffing firm has maybe bit less than 6% of the market share. So you can see the fragmentation and the opportunity that is there for the company. And it allows us to be very opportunistic about who we want to go after who we want to acquire and bring into, into the business as our business partners. And we do so with a model that is a little bit unique to what you might see from other staffing firms, where we maintain the brand of the, of the firm that we're buying. We want those entrepreneurs who say entrepreneurially minded and, and run those businesses and grow those businesses.

And we provide them with the back office and shared services for them to operate with some corporate governance guide rails around the business as well. So it really enables them to keep that sense of it. Yeah. And keep growing their business. And because of that unique aspect of it, we can have a niche frame coming to the company that are known for something that really both they're experts in a certain part of staffing.

The staffing is fairly broad and we then end up having a whole lot of these niche brands that are really well known for different things. And that can, that can sort of leverage off of one another. They can share their expertise across the brand and they all benefiting from that. And obviously the company overall benefits from it and the reasons.

That we're adding this, this HR consulting element to the company as well. These, because staffing itself is becoming much more consultative. It's definitely trending that way. They're the good hours reports and research reports. You're seeing the staffing industry to start taking on more flavors of consulting.

And that's because the clients are looking to try and get more out of the vendors that they engage with and they're trying to leverage that more. And you know, the human capital strategies are very important for companies, obviously. And then the technology is another aspect for us, which is really sort of the sizzle to the site.

So to speak where it allows us to provide another differentiator for our brands going to market. And also now we're going to be more efficient and we're looking at tech just for staffing firms or consulting firms, but technologies that help clients, which is why we bought Pulsify in April, because that enables employee engagement, gots clients with a hybrid or remote workforce.

And those types of products are what we're looking to to bring into the brand as well.

Jan Jedlinski: Super interesting. Besides Pulsify, what other technologies do you use? You have a know your core tech stack or favorite tools that you see now coming into the staffing market and wants that have been around where you say, Hey, those are our core technologies that we use to enable all our brands, or do you have different technologies for different brand?

How do you handle that?.

Simon Dealy: We definitely try to streamline. And you want to have one tech stack that you have across all the brands is part about taking out a, the SGNA of the brands that we acquire and putting it into our, our shared services is to provide this sort of one common tech stack, as you mentioned to the brands.

And so we use a lot of cloud, everything's, cloud-based because of this, with the remoteness of the organization. Right? So yeah, Microsoft office 365 is the core solution set that we have. We use Bullhorn as our applicant tracking system and CRM. So we have. Yeah. And again, that's probably the big core systems that we have in there.

We've got a brand that uses Job Diva, for example, where we're not asking them to change over to Bullhorn of them, because they've just integrated that so well into their operations. So we are flexible in how we do it and we don't mandate, but we do definitely try and streamline and there are. Other technologies that we're looking to acquire to provide to our clients, things like that provides psychometric testing and that we'll use to ensure that the employees that you're engaging with when the company bring somebody in, it's not just the skillset.

It's also that work style performance element, and making sure that if the culture of the company, those types of things, and then the onboarding and offboarding solutions as well, those types of things that help a company manage the human capital that they have.

Jan Jedlinski: Cool. No, that's that's definitely a good strategy and a good tech stack.

And I feel like around the Bullhorn marketplace, you'll find other providers and a lot of automation will come into place in the near future as well. One question that I'm interested in particular, like when you look at it, The MNA market. And when you look at acquiring new staffing companies, what would you give as an advice to a staffing owner or operator that wants to sell their business?

So when you go into conversations, what would be something that staffing owners should look for or look at when they are about to sell to somebody like HIRE Technologies or maybe other providers in the market?

Simon Dealy: Yeah. So it's a really good question because obviously we're getting to talk to a lot of different firms and in lots of different stages of their life cycle, certainly having a clear understanding of why you're doing the transaction.

That's probably the most important one to start with is why do you want to sell? And it's not always, it's not always because I look at, I just want to get that pay day. I'm looking for, or looking to, to get my money out of the balance sheet, so to speak. And there's a lot of different reasons, a lot of different motivations for that.

And, you know, we create our deal structures in very customized flexible way because the, ultimately the ones and zeros in a transaction will take care of themselves. It's the human element that you have to really focus on to ensure you have successful post-merger integration. So we spend a lot of time wanting to understand why the vendors are wanting to sell their company.

What are they hoping to achieve? Post-transaction being flexible. Often multiple partners in the, in the firms that we talk to and for the people that are looking to sell is having all those conversations beforehand, before you're going out there talking to potential acquirers, making sure you understand very clearly what you're hoping to achieve from the transaction.

And then on the mechanical side, That side of things is, you know, getting your house in order and making sure you've got your financials all set up and ready to go. That you've got a data room with all your, with all your company information and all the top reporting and everything that we're going to want to look at.

Is there ready and have really streamlines the process? And, you know, we do a lot of the heavy lifting on our side. For the, the vendors that we talked to, because we know this is probably their first transaction and we do multiple transactions. So we understand that we need to want to walk them through that process, but ultimately it is really having a clear understanding of the objectives of, of what they're trying to achieve.

Jan Jedlinski: Is it hard these days to find people that will sell their staffing company? Because I feel like, you know, the last one or two years, I saw a lot of technology providers as well, that started to acquire staffing companies specifically for the purpose of acquiring their customer base, because it's just so hard to get through all these noise in the market and get to new customers because obviously the services are very similar.

Everybody has the best candidates. So even if you're a new technology or freelance platform, it's very hard to differentiate maybe from traditional staffing businesses. Do you have a lot of competition from other technology providers that are trying to acquire firms? How do you see that right now?

Simon Dealy: Yeah, I think there's, there's definitely, there's other there's other public staffing firms that are looking to, to acquire.

And then there's the, the product on the private side of the industry as well, you know, private venture capitalists and someone acquiring firms. And so both of those you would say would be competitors of ours in the market, which is why we've adopted this fairly unique strategy and it's actually one, our client of mine back in my consulting guys was so IPG.

So the Interpublic group does a very similar fashion to what we're doing, where they are, the world's largest marketing feminine I've acquired, I think 90 plus brands. And I keep all those brands and bought a lot of it. I think, for the entrepreneurs that have built these companies, they didn't coming to want to be an entrepreneur owning and running a company to then end up ultimately just being an employee.

I want to still have that sense that they're running something and we allowed them to do that. So where another public staffing firm might throw that brand out and all the client base and the candidate database into the company, we keep all that with people that, that sense as well, and on the Yeah, funny side of it.

Sometimes it's an acquirer who doesn't understand the staffing industry. They don't have a lot of expertise in that, or they have a different exit strategy that are acquiring it to them in a, in a timeline that might not fit to the vendors to resell it and to get their payday from what they've acquired.

So it's not lining that and and so for us. It hasn't been that difficult to build out deal pipeline without do pop ones for Drupal since the beginning of last year. So there's a lot of transactions there for us sort of companies that we're talking to because of the way that we go about bringing these guys in.

And we do want to structure the deals in such a way that we have these raving fans there about the transaction. And so a lot of what we're saying. Yeah. The entities that we've acquired are now out there in the market, talking to their network about HIRE Technologies and why they should do a transaction with us.

And again, we provided them with expanding their skillset that they didn't have before other solutions. And that isn't just within staffing that I weren't providing, opens up the opportunities to their clients and let them sell a lot more new things into their clients. Maybe it would have sold in the past.

Jan Jedlinski: Very cool. Very cool. Thank you so much for that insight. I think that's super interesting. And obviously the M&A market in staffing is super hot. Then we have a topic or session on that at the World Staffing Summit early this year, which was highly frequent that everybody was super interested in it.

So I'll definitely. Touch base with you about the state of M&A and staffing in the next couple of months and probably in our next recording, we can catch up on that, but let's shift gears a little bit, and I know you have answered that question a little bit already, but over the last 18 months, we have seen explosive growth in staffing firms interest in adopting a platform based sort of to say recruiter, less model for staffing, where basically you create a direct connection between the worker and the clients. And we specifically see that on the light industrial staffing and more than on a professional side, but what is your take on that?

Is the recruiter going away anytime soon?

Simon Dealy: Yeah, it's a really interesting question. Certainly the pandemic created a situation and where companies were very reluctant to go through an entire interview cycle through, through zoom or whatever. The, the video conferencing features and, and they had to do that there, they, they ultimately ended up having to do that.

In addition, companies became much more comfortable with recruiting people outside. Their immediate geographic area. And it really opened the doors to other opportunities, both for the candidate and the company in doing that. And when you've got platforms that are sort of that connecting the, the candidate to the employer directly, that works pretty well in, in certain types of roles.

Certainly if the company has the capacity, it has the horsepower internally to go through all those candidates because they're going to get a lot of candidates. And this is something that. Yeah, there's a curation. That's happening to the candidates by the recruiting company by the staffing firm to present is here are the three or four candidates that meet the skillset, the fit to your culture and everything else that you're asking for here are the here are the that small curated set, when you're going direct through those other systems, you're not getting a curation of the candidates.

So it means that the company then has to make sure that they are. Ensuring they've got diversity practices in place that they are assessing candidates correctly. They are comparing them. There's a standardization to the process they go through so that they really is a systematic way of going through some through these candidates as well.

And you're not disqualifying candidates could, that could be really well suited to the role. And there's no prejudice prejudices and sort of built into that process. So there's a lot of different things that are happening and certainly companies and much larger companies do have essentially. Staffing firm that they're using to go through the process of doing that.

But a lot of companies don't and they're focusing on their core product and their core product isn't to be a staffing firm, their core product is something completely different. So let the experts do their expert job, providing these candidates to them because the next part of that is if you don't go through that process sufficiently, you could have employee turnover.

There was a miss, there was a disconnect and mismatch, and then you've got to have the employee turnover becomes very expensive because then you're having to go through that entire process. Again, to bring another candidate online where staffing firms will provide some sort of guaranteed period of the candidates that are coming online for them.

Jan Jedlinski: I agree. And I definitely see it exactly. Like you think the process around the recruiter and maybe the account manager will evolve. You'll have much better user experience, sort of say both for the client as well as the candidate. But you will still have that curation in the middle. So maybe the what recruiter changes to talent curator in the, in the future, but it's definitely here to stay.

And I agree on some points that, you know, people say that, you know, there is some automation, the Uberization of staffing, potentially on the lower end of the market. Right. Creating a lot of automations. And you know, maybe there is warehouse jobs where you quickly need to fill specific type of skillsets that you can automate without the recruiter, but going upstream in the definitely the recruiter is not going away anytime soon.

At least that's what I think. Yeah. So I would say

One last question before we jump into sort of the end of this episode, what advice would you give to someone who is starting a staffing company today? I know that you are in the market with higher technologies for only a couple of years now. What are the things that you would say to somebody that is starting out today and what would be your advice?

Simon Dealy: Yeah. Certainly if someone's looking to create a brand new staffing feminism, I mentioned is there's quite a few of them out there, 30,000 or in north America alone. It's really understanding what their specialization is be known for something, you know, don't try and be everything to everybody. I understand your, your market, where you're going to your candidates from the skillsets of the candidates and your local market, and what are you able to articulate?

What's that? What are you going to be known for? And really sticking to that, because if you're going to go into the market and try to be everything to everybody, there's already other firms out there. That are going to be doing those things as well, and you're going to be stacked up against them. So if it's, if it's too thin, if you're too thin across different specializations in staffing, you could be found wanting, not being able to produce sort of that expert level knowledge to the client.

Because again, the clients aren't looking at. Or okay, you bring this in candidates too, and this is great, but it's your understanding of their industry? It's your understanding of the type of solution that you bring into the company? Because they're going to be looking at you as being top of the consultant for them.

As I mentioned, staffing's becoming far more consultative these days and also being a great communicator, being able to really sit there and listen and active listening and understanding what the client's needs are, where are they taking their company? And how can you provide that a little bit of extra added value to that transaction that they're doing with it

Jan Jedlinski: I agree. And I think the future of the industry looks really verticalized. Like there is a lot of great examples about vertical staffing companies that are just focusing on a specific skill set and are doing this really great growing much, much faster and providing them much value proposition, both the candidate and the client.

And I think specifically on even candidate attraction, this will be super crucial because if you can clearly articulate what your value is and what you're providing, then you'll have a much easier time finding candidates as well.

Simon Dealy: Exactly, exactly. Right.

Jan Jedlinski: Where can listeners find you online and learn more about HIRE?

Simon Dealy: Yeah. So our the, the best place to start, I guess, is our website, which is a hire.company. Pretty easy is a URL to, to remember Hire is actually also activist symbol on the the Toronto exchanges, venture exchange. And so yeah, that's where you can get a lot of information. And also we have obviously other social media channels, like LinkedIn and so on as well.

So yeah, that's, that's where it is.

Jan Jedlinski: Awesome. And last but not least, what is your go-to source for staffing news or industry news today?

Simon Dealy: Yeah, that's a, that's a good question. I'm a little ignostic when it comes to getting information on staffing. I mean, the there's, there's the sort of usual go-to is like, the SIA is, is a good one for me.

Where are they? They have like a daily update and reports coming out, but then I will read all things like Bloomberg and other news, that news sources as well. Cause I want to learn about my clients. I mean, it's not just the industry per se, but it's what are the companies doing? So I, I go fairly broad in and look at other new services as well.

Yeah, I think Bloomberg would probably my other go-to.

Jan Jedlinski: Awesome. Thank you so much, Simon, for being on this episode today, it was a pleasure to speak with you and we'll catch up in the next couple of months and see what has changed. And in the meantime, hopefully you enjoy your time in Boston and thank you so much.

And I'll talk to you soon.

Simon Dealy: Yeah, thank you. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk with you.

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