A longtime downtown Akron business has moved and is now sharing room with another business with deep Akron roots. Superior Staffing is now located at 701 S. Broadway, a location it shares with the Jones Group, which formerly was Business Interiors and Environments (BIE).

The two family-owned businesses ? one a staffing agency and search firm and the other a commercial and residential design agency ? work well together in the architecturally interesting building that used to be the home of the Continental Baking and Taystee Bread Co., said Tom Doll, president/owner of Superior Staffing.

''Our offices are located in what used to be the stables that housed the horses used to pull the carts through Akron to deliver fresh baked bread,'' said Doll.

Superior Staffing was founded 31 years ago by his stepmother, Fran Doll. It was the first family-owned staffing service in Akron, said Tom Doll, who with his stepsister, Sheri Witte, bought the business four years ago.

But after 31 years in Quaker Square, Tom Doll said it was time to look for a new space after the University of Akron bought the hotel and retail complex in 2007. UA converted the former hotel into student housing, but maintained some hotel rooms and some of the retail area. But many of the former retail areas are being taken over by classrooms and while UA wanted Doll and others to stay, they were not giving long-term leases, Doll said.

Doll said he wanted more long-term security and wanted to stay downtown.

''We have 1,000 visitors and job seekers a year. We need to be in a convenient location,'' he said.

Doll said having been in the unique Quaker Square location for so long, he was looking for another special downtown location.

''I was unable to find anything I would consider unique until I found this place,'' Doll said.

But it still took his real estate agent a year to push him to look at the building, which Doll said he originally didn't consider part of the downtown business district.

Superior Staffing takes up about half of the space formerly used by BIE, which used to sell panel office furniture (cubicles), and at its height had two locations and 50 employees. BIE was founded in 1973 and was originally on South Main Street.

But in 2009, CEO Bob Jones sold BIE after the recession hit the business and one son, David, retired while the other son, Eric, wanted to focus on interior design.

The company, the Jones Group, now solely focuses on commercial and residential design.

The building shared by the Jones Group and Superior Staffing still holds a lot of history in its architecture, but also in its basement. Bob Jones keeps his extensive collection of about 50 antique cars there. Doll said being ''building mates'' has been a great perk as Jones lets Doll show prospective clients around the car collection.

Doll said he really likes sharing a building with his landlord.

'Having the opportunity to have your landlord be another family-owned business made me feel a lot better,'' he said. ''We're a perfect match.''

The companies decided to share a lobby area and while they have some separate areas, they share common space, too, such as a conference room. Doll staffs the lobby area for both businesses with his employees; Jones' furniture decorates the space. Superior Staffing has 16 employees, and the Jones Group has 12.

Jones said the two companies fit well together.

'They're a good company with good people. We're of the same culture,'' said Jones.


Superior Staffing began as a temporary staffing agency for administrative clerical staff and although that part of the business has remained, its nature has changed over the years, said Doll.

With the recession, the client base dwindled for those seeking temporary staff, so Doll started the Superior Search Group, which recruits degreed professionals. The company has found a niche in companies looking for mid-level engineers and manufacturing management all over the country, but it also places other professionals.

Doll said the company's clients are based in Akron and Northeast Ohio but use Superior Staffing to find staff for facilities outside of the area.

The recession has made it difficult, especially in the last 21/2 years, said Doll. Superior's office staffing division remains flat while he is seeing growth in the recruiting and in a third division (Superior Employment Screening), which does background checks.

''[That] tells me people are hiring,'' Doll said.

As for their end of Broadway, despite many vacant buildings, Jones and Doll say they see lots of potential.

''I'm expecting development this way,'' said Jones. ''The hospitals, the university and corporations are coming into this part of town'' and the city owns a lot of land in the area, he said.

Looking at the natural expansion for downtown Akron, Doll said it would be logical for South Broadway to be developed.

Doll said he was at first concerned about the neighborhood, but found that there is very little walk-by traffic.

''We had more problems at Quaker,'' he said.

Jones owns the building and 1.5 acres behind it. He still has about 3,000 square feet of leasable space.

Article by:
Betty Lin-Fisher, Beacon Journal Business Writer
June 20, 2012