By Cheryl Long
Anyone who has ever sifted through dozens of resumes knows that finding the right job candidate can be a daunting task. That’s why the concept of hiring talent to find talent is becoming an increasingly popular one among companies worldwide.
In Canada, Eagle Professional Resources is working hard to earn the No. 1 spot among the country’s professional staffing organizations. With 10 offices stretching from Victoria, British Columbia to Halifax, Nova Scotia, the privately-held company is successfully recruiting and placing information technology (IT), finance and accounting, and senior executives and management consultants in businesses coast to coast on a temporary, contract or permanent basis.
Eagle CEO Kevin Dee founded the company, together with five partners, when it was launched in 1996 with 10 employees and 100 contractors. But professional staffing was far from his first career choice. A native of Liverpool, England, Kevin joined the Royal Navy at age 16 and later returned to school to become a computer programmer. After immigrating to Canada, he eventually landed at Andersen Consulting in Ottawa where he ultimately headed up their staffing division. In 1996, Andersen deemed the division to be “non-core” and Kevin led a management buyout of the division — and Eagle was born.
Most of the business was run out of the Toronto location, Kevin said, but they also had small offices in Calgary and in Ottawa, where Kevin was the sole employee working from his home. By the end of the company’s first year, they had grown to 17 employees and earned $17 million in revenue.
Grew to 10 locations across Canada
In 1998, the company opened offices in Montreal and Vancouver and later added locations in Halifax, Edmonton, Winnipeg and finally Victoria and Regina in 2005. At the end of their 2014 fiscal year, the steadily growing organization posted revenues of $140 million.
“It’s a very competitive industry,” Kevin explained. “With skinny margins, and to be successful, we have to be good at what we do so our clients get the right talent, fast, and at a competitive price.” Those clients span a wide range of industries, from banks and utilities to telecommunications, oil and gas, and three levels of government. Working with Eagle allows their clients to spend less time in the hiring process and more time focusing on their own core business.
One of the company’s most valuable tools is a proprietary database with more than 200,000 job candidates, many who have been pre-qualified or are in the process of being screened by Eagle’s team. They also provide clients with an opportunity to post jobs on Eagle’s website, which attracts about 4,000 resumes each month, Kevin said. Bringing together the best candidates and the most promising employment opportunities is at the heart of Eagle, reinforced by the company’s core values of team, integrity, innovation and excellence.
It’s no surprise that Eagle Professional Resources has a long history with Deloitte’s list of Canada’s Best Managed Companies. The company first made the roster in 1999 and has held Platinum member status since 2005. But that’s just the beginning of their lengthy list of awards. Eagle President and COO Janis Grantham was included in the PROFIT/Chatelaine W100 list of Canada’s Top Women Entrepreneurs, published by PROFIT Magazine in October 2013. In 2012, Eagle was named one of Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures by executive search firm Waterstone Human Capital.
50 Best list helped Eagle grow and improve
“The 50 Best is a really interesting process; a true evaluation of whether you’re good at what you do,” Kevin said. Best practices, finances and employee treatment are among the categories used to rank companies, and Eagle has gone through the evaluation process twice. “We’re very proud of this award and we tell people that.”
“The process helps make you a better company. Getting to sit with a Deloitte partner and a CIBC executive and talking about the company as they’re evaluating you is free consulting. We’ve used the feedback they’ve given to help the company improve over the years.”
In 2006, Eagle became ISO 9001 certified, a rigorous process that helped Eagle develop very clear business processes intended to bring continuity to the client experience. The certification also recognizes the company’s commitment to quality and excellence. They’re also determined to give back to the communities in which they live and work, a sentiment that permeates the culture of the organization.
“We talked to the staff and asked what was important to them,” Kevin said. The majority were in favour of child-based causes and the company began supporting the Children’s Aid Foundation. They later moved their donations over to the United Way, which allows everyone to direct their contribution. “We try to sign everybody up to a charitable deduction program. If they sign up they get Jeans Fridays and we have almost 100-percent involvement in that program,” he said.
Eagle puts a great deal of emphasis on employee satisfaction and part of that means creating an inviting, supportive workplace. Monthly and annual programs recognize the efforts of individuals, and diversity lunches allow the staff to get to know each other a little better by encouraging everyone to join in a potluck lunch with foods highlighting each other’s ethnicity. Special days off give employees an opportunity to celebrate a cultural event, a birthday, or even donate time to charity. Their employee breakfast program keeps the kitchen stocked with foods like fruit, muffins and bagels.
Flexible work program among employee incentives
A few years ago, Eagle partnered with the University of Calgary and Calgary Economic Development to implement a program called WORKshift, which helps companies bring flexible work programs into their organizations. Employees who qualify to participate can set up a custom workday, whether it means working earlier or later hours, or splitting their time between home and the office.
“Happy people work better,” Kevin explained. “If people hate going to the office, that’s a miserable way to live and that comes through in their work.”
The company is poised for long-term growth, and there are plans to eventually add other divisions to their list of offerings. It’s possible that the company’s expansion could take them outside of Canada one day, but it’s not currently a priority. “Our goal is to double in size over the next five years, and we can achieve that here in Canada,” Kevin said.