Tom Doll, President/Owner
Superior Staffing
Superior Search Group
Superior Employment Screening

The Summit County unemployment rate has hovered around 9 percent for the past couple years - far above the 5 percent level economists consider full employment. To return to pre-recession employment levels and employ those just entering the work force, Northeast Ohio will have to create jobs at a pace not seen in decades.

The problem: The economy won't improve until companies start hiring, but employers are reluctant to hire because of uncertainty about their business forecast.

Superior Staffing, our family-owned company, has experienced job growth in the past 12 months in each of our three divisions. Superior Staffing, our main division, focuses on administrative and clerical positions with growth being flat at best since the layoffs and hiring freezes of 2008 and 2009. Areas showing consistently strong employment opportunities are in customer service and call-center positions.

Superior Search Group recruits and places talent with degrees with a focus on engineering and manufacturing management. This division had revenue growth of 50 percent in 2011.

Superior Employment Screening is our background check division and also showed some revenue growth in 2011. Is that due to more hiring or just more companies seeing the value of background checks?

Staffing companies are accurate predictors of an improving economy and Northeast Ohio is lagging the growth of many other states. Employment is at least moving in a positive direction.

Michael Kahoe, President
Group Management Services Inc., Richfield

We are a professional services business that provides human resources services to about 600 small businesses, almost all in Ohio. We have about 13,000 employees who work at these businesses. Our average customer has between 25 and 30 employees. We act as the human resources department for our business customers.

Last year, we added about 30 percent new customers and hope to do the same this year. We market to companies, across all industries, that have between five and 100 employees.

Our business model involves billing as a percent of payroll. We added 20 percent more customers in 2009 compared to 2008 but payrolls that year dropped almost 40 percent. Businesses cut back and dropped such things as 401(k) plans.

Now, almost across the board, business is getting better. Customers are saying they can't find people to hire. I attribute that to the 99 weeks of unemployment benefits people can now get. I can't think of another factor. Businesses can't find truck drivers or people to clean hotel rooms. We had a 30 percent no-show recently for job interviews for hotel room cleaners in Canton that paid about $10 an hour.

I think there will be slow and steady economic growth this year, as there was in 2011. My opinion is we'll see a lot of the same in 2012. I think people are still scared by what happened in 2009.

Carl Albright
President and Chief Executive
InfoCision Management Corp.

In speaking with our clients, most of whom do business nationally, I've been hearing a renewed sense of confidence in the economy. The downturn over the past few years has certainly been challengingfor everyone, including Info-Cision, but we have made it through in large part due to the strength of our client relationships. Our philosophy has always been to put our clients first and deliver superior results. We outperform our competitors by investing in our people and technology.

In the call-center industry, we're seeing greater demand for our services as companies begin to increase budgets and allocate more marketing dollars, which in turn opens the door for us to increase hiring, not just in the call center, but in information technology, human resources, marketing and accounting.

InfoCision is in a strong position to benefit from the improved market conditions. Last summer, we opened our newest facility in Green, adding hundreds of jobs locally. And in September our call center in Ontario, Canada, opened to exclusively serve our growing Canadian clientele. We had an outstanding fourth quarter and, out of the gate, we're already on pace for our biggest sales year ever in 2012.

January 29, 2012