Putting Skin in the Game

Rich Diaz | Photo by Sheila Barabad

Some may call it insane, but Advanced Resources is going against the grain of the staffing industry, thanks to  the leadership of Rich Diaz

Since Rich Diaz joined Advanced Resources in 2009, the Chicago-based temporary staffing agency has grown its revenues by a remarkable 300 percent—but that’s not surprising given Diaz’s background. Prior to joining Advanced Resources, Diaz gained more than 15 years of experience at high-growth companies—as a managing director at Solomon Edwards Group, a national business-advisory and professional-staffing firm; an area managing director at MPS Group, a $2 billion professional-services firm; and an area manager at SOS Employment Group, a $250 million staffing firm. Now bringing his skills to Advanced Resources, he shares with us the strategies for successfully growing a staffing business.


Evolve with the Market
In the past, a company seeking an employee would run an ad and pray that someone would respond—but that’s all changed now, according to Diaz. “We not only have to be great recruiters; we have to know what our buyers are looking for,” he says. “We might be working with an HR person seeking to please a business client or a director of reimbursement trying to figure out how Obamacare will impact his department, and we ultimately have to understand exactly what each one is facing in order to find people that will help them reach their business objectives.” As a result, Advanced Resources provides continuous education to its employees to add value to its customers—but it doesn’t train as much on sales as it does on business knowledge. “You have to become an expert in your niche,” Diaz says.


Commit to Making a Difference
According to Diaz, Advanced Resources does more than place people in jobs; it makes the world a better place. “We put thousands of people to work each year, and we help thousands of companies achieve their goals,” he says. “That really makes a difference—in our associates’ lives, in our clients’ lives.” As an example, he points to Walgreens, which recently underwent a transformation to bring its stores up to date. It wasn’t an easy task; it required expertise in dozens of fields, from licensing to marketing. “We provided a lot of the manpower to support our clients’ initiatives,” he says. “Now, if you go to the Walgreens website and click on ‘Refill Rx,’ you’re engaging in a process that we helped make happen.”

Up Close & Personal

Getting to know Rich Diaz

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? My mother wanted me to be a preacher and my father wanted me to be a psychologist, but I considered everything. Ultimately, I had a love for business, and the staffing industry allowed me the opportunity to help people.

What three words describe you? Genuine, driven, and passionate.

How has your psychology degree enhanced your business skills? Business is all about people. Everyone is motivated to do something and sometimes that motivation is to do something outside of work. Maybe it’s earn more money. Maybe it’s spend more time with the kids. Either way, understanding people helps me support them and get the best work out of them.

How do you balance your work and personal life? Being a wonderful husband and father is as important to me as being successful in my career. To do that, I have to be present in the moment.

Looking back, would you change anything? I care a lot about at-risk kids, and I wish I’d found time to give back more much earlier in my life.


Provide Value
Most businesses are focused on revenue rather than doing the right thing, Diaz explains. “Like many businesses, those in our industry are quick to close a deal and make a buck, and customers are happy to fill a seat and attack a project,” he says. Advanced Resources, on the other hand, takes a counterintuitive approach. “We say, ‘What if we can complete your project in half the time, thereby saving you money, but the way we are going to do that is by charging more now for quality talent?’” Diaz says. “Our industry is scared to do those things because they’re afraid they can’t produce the quality work. We absolutely will put skin in the game—and we say, if we don’t provide the quality, we won’t charge you. Go to the management of any other publicly held staffing company and ask what they think about that. They’ll tell you we’re insane.”


Focus on People
“We’re a human-capital organization, so if we don’t have the right team, we don’t have a deliverable,” says Diaz. Finding the right team, he says, requires constant networking, and Diaz himself interviews three to five people a week. Then, when a new hire comes onboard, Advanced Resources works to develop him/her. “We put aside a large amount of money for professional development, and we diligently work to help people reach their potential,” he says. Finally, the company focuses on retention. “We have tremendous incentives to keep employees engaged with us,” Diaz says. By one measure, at least, Diaz is succeeding: Advanced Resources outperforms its industry two-to-one based on revenue generated per full-time employee.