Letter from the Editor: The Long Play

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R.J. King
R.J. King

To expand her IT and business services company, which last year recorded $321.3 million in revenue, Cindy Pasky could poach workers from her competitors or seek out immigrant workers. 

Both avenues are fraught with difficulties. There’s no guarantee talent recruited from a given industry will work out over time, while immigration is much more challenging in light of a pro-American economic strategy emanating from the White House.

Then there’s the long play. 

“We’re all in on local workforce development, especially in Detroit,” says Pasky, founder, president, and CEO of Strategic Staffing Solutions in Detroit. “We find people who are unemployed or underemployed, as well as people who are coming out of the military, and we train them. The talent is here, and you have to offer the whole training package. It’s what I call the long play.”

Strategic Staffing Solutions, or S3, works in numerous industry sectors: energy/utility, health care, insurance, communications, and financial services. It offers an array of services including specialized staffing, direct-hire recruiting, and workforce programs.

Founded in 1990, the company’s compounded annual growth rate is 20 percent. To maintain momentum, finding and training talent is a top priority. By developing a training program of hard and soft skills, the average recruit can enter S3’s health care services department in as little as eight weeks, while more specialized work requires up to six months of instruction.

“We train entry-level workers, and if they do a good job and work hard, a person can take more training in the evening for two hours to get to the next level,” Pasky says. “It takes two to three months for people to start that next level of training, or we have people who are perfectly happy to stay where they are.”

Pasky highlights numerous benefits of nurturing homegrown talent, most of which is centered in Detroit — but also can be found at S3’s operations in New Orleans, St. Louis, and Richmond, Va. Overall, the company, which has more than 3,600 employees, operates 32 offices (25 in the Unites States, the remainder in Europe) and is making its first foray into South America by establishing a presence in Argentina.

“Training local talent isn’t easy, but the results are significant,” says Pasky, who is co-chair of Mayor Mike Duggan’s Workforce Development Board. “No. 1 is loyalty. People who go through our training program are so appreciative because, for many, we’re an organization that believed in them and gave them a chance. That loyalty is spread among their family members, their friends, and the community.

“It builds more recruiting opportunities, because once one person finds steady work, people in the neighborhood, especially younger people, take notice. But it doesn’t stop there. We’re very big on corporate culture and making sure we give back to the communities in which we serve. Last year alone we gave back more than $2 million in sponsorships and donations to charities.”

On the military front, Pasky says around 44 percent of S3’s workforce claims veteran, military spouse, or military dependent status.

“Military service is one of the foundations of our country, and I feel strongly that businesses and organizations should support our military men and women when they leave the service,” she says. “Whether training local talent or our veterans, we create jobs and help develop jobs. If our communities are successful, we’re successful.”

— R.J. King, rjking@dbusiness.com

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