As Detroit-based Strategic Staffing Solutions celebrates its 25th anniversary today with activities throughout downtown Detroit, DBusiness Daily News interviewed Cindy Pasky, founder, president, and CEO, about where she sees the staffing industry headed, and her thoughts on the progress of the city’s turnaround.
1. DDN: What do you attribute to the success of your company and for being around for 25 years?
It’s the most important basic things of business. We’re very true to our mission and our objectives. We stay very focused on our organizational chart, which is an upside down triangle that has customers and our consultants at the top of the triangle. We don’t chase trends. We always outwork the competition and we never take anything for granted. You have to earn it every single day. We’re so fortunate we have customers that have been customers for 25 years, but every single day we wake up and say we have to earn the opportunity to keep that business.
2. DDN: Why do you work with 20 or so major clients, rather than dozens and dozens of customers?
For us, it’s been exactly what we needed to do without a doubt. We’ve been specific about our industries as well, (which include finance, health care, insurance, and energy). If you look at companies that would be our competitors, a lot of times what their claim to fame is that they have 100 customers and they’re in all these industries. We’re focused on our core industries with large customers that we can deal with directly, service them in multiple disciplines, multiple departments, and when we do our job really well, it creates opportunity every single year no matter what’s going on in that industry or what’s going on in the economy.
3. DDN: What opportunities for growth do you see moving forward?
I think our opportunities, as long as we stay true to who we are and are honest, ethical, and work hard, they’re really endless. If we continue to (offer) additional opportunities and additional services that our customers would like us to provide them, our customers will grow, which lets us have different places in the United States and in the world that we can go to service them. And within the industries that we service, our customers are our best reference, which then gives us the opportunity to expand to new customers on a selective, thoughtful basis.
We have 31 brick and mortar offices but we have people engaged in 48 states (and) in 10 countries. I’m sure we’ll end up having some people engaged in the Americas within the next year because we have a couple of customers that are asking us to be prepared to support them there. We don’t have brick-and-mortar (offices) in Seattle and Portland, but we have a large concentration of consultants engaged in both cities. Wherever our customer needs us to go, we will find a way to get there.
4. DDN: Over the past 25 years, what trends have you seen in the industry?
Our customers have begun to recognize that the services we provide are actually an industry onto their own. The staffing industry — whether it’s IT, finance, whatever — it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. It’s a great job creator and an influencer in hiring practices, in HR practices, and legal and immigration. So the one thing I’ve seen is that corporations now recognize that.
They’ve also recognized that if they’re much more sophisticated, aware, and educated on how to have a partnership with a company like us, they’re doing that. In our long-term relationships, we may be part of how they plan for talent acquisition versus staff and maybe the talent is going to be people they hire, people we hire for them, people that run a project and go away. That’s a shift. I also think the industry has changed because you have to be far more aware of individuals’ backgrounds, where your talent is going to come from, how do you screen them, how to you make sure they’re appropriate to work, and how are they going to be safe in the environment. Every five years, someone will look up and say the staffing industry is going to go away. That part hasn’t changed. We’ve seen a lot of trends come and go but I think the big change that we’ve seen is the recognition that this is a very important industry to the economy. It’s very sophisticated and it can be a valuable tool for corporations when they recognize that.
5. DDN: In terms of your involvement with the city of Detroit, what progress have you seen?
I personally have lived in the city since 1986. My partner and my husband Paul (Huxley) has lived in the city since 1992, and, of course, S3 has been headquartered here from day one. I share that because that gives us certainly a different perspective than a lot of people would have. We both had parents that grew up here and grandparents that chose to live here. So I think the things that have improved most recently under Mayor (Mike) Duggan is we have an administration that is transparent. They tell you exactly how many streetlights have been turned on and which ones haven’t. They’re honest, they’re ethical, and they’re inclusive in the right kind of way. I think the other thing that has started to change and that I’ve always believed in as chair of the Downtown Detroit Partnership is downtown is just one neighborhood but it’s no more important that any other neighborhood. We’re starting to see that that’s becoming understood and recognized by other players. Everything that we do in the core downtown and Midtown area should always be done and vetted against: “Can this impact in a positive way a neighborhood group to do the same thing?” There was a minority of us that believed that for a while, and now we’re starting to see the shift. I think part of that is because Mayor Duggan came into office knowing that, and he holds true to that when he makes his decisions.