SearchPros Solutions’ start had all the makings of a feel-good movie.
Back in 2004 on Christmas Eve, Myla Ramos, Heather Kocina and Rayna Pearson were working at a staffing company whose lobby was filled with people waiting to get paid. But, upon learning that a snowstorm elsewhere had forced FedEx to postpone the paycheck delivery until after the holiday, the three women reached for their personal checkbooks and started lending $50 and $100 to the contractor workers. Afterwards, the trio not only de-stressed over cocktails but decided to launch a staffing business together. Each contributed $3.33 towards a $10 business license.
After securing their year-end bonuses, they left their jobs and set up their entrepreneurial venture in a 150-square-foot space in downtown Sacramento. Using the Yellow Pages, they cold call companies to drum up business for their staffing service while newspaper ads and websites provided them with prospective workers.
Today, from its corporate-owned headquarters in Citrus Heights, California, SearchPros Solutions encompasses two business units. Its staffing operation has helped thousands land consultant and contract labor positions that pay anywhere from $10 an hour to $300,000 a year. The firm, which services a wide range of industries, has placed contract workers in jobs throughout the U.S. and overseas, including in Germany and Singapore. Meanwhile, its Managed Service Program directs the full staff augmentation process of as many as 250 vendors that service its customers, including major defense contractors. Ramos, 48, serves as CEO, Pearson, 35, is CFO, and Kocina, 35, is COO.
Although Ramos declined to disclose the firm’s sales, she said the company provided new W2s to 2,300 individuals last year, a 35% increase from 1,700 in 2015.
“I think a lot of a person’s identity is tied to how they earn a living, and it’s an amazing opportunity for us to help people find that identity which, hopefully, can be their passion,” said Ramos.
Currently about 20,000 staffing and recruitment firms populate the country, and all together operate an estimated 39,000 offices, according to the American Staffing Association. About 55% of companies and 74% of offices are in the industry’s temporary and contract staffing sector.
Since SearchPros’ inception, its unswerving tenacity has not only enabled the firm to compete but thrive.
When legal hiring began to slow down, SearchPros turned to the financial services industry, snagging business from mortgage companies like IndyMac and Countrywide. But when the boom turned into the debacle, it lost $3 million in receivables that “we would never collect,” said Ramos.
Rather than throw in the towel, the trio decided to move forward by paying the temps, taking out a loan and not taking salaries until the firm recovered.
“We all lived leanly,” said Ramos.
They also turned their marketing efforts to huge, stable and enduring entities — the federal government and the firms that rely on it for contracts, such as defense companies.
As a result, SearchPros became an approved government vendor, but securing the business was no easy feat, with Ramos spending six months emailing and attending conventions and meetings in order to connect with procurement buyers. During a chance meeting in 2009, a buyer said her emails had gone to spam. Apologizing, he gave her his office number, saying she should call him the next day to tell him about her company.
That night, Ramos purchased a can of Spam, plastered her business cards around it and sent it via FedEx to the buyer, along with a box of her business cards. Impressed with her creativity, the buyer arranged for Ramos to meet with his colleagues.
“That manager still has the Spam can with my business cards,” said Ramos.