Full-Time Perks

Ron Alvarado chose an odd time to launch a recruitment-services company. In 2009, as the country was experiencing some of the most financially troubling times in history, the premise of Alvarado’s Novus Staffing Solutions was to find people jobs when no one was hiring. Despite the odds, Novus experienced revenue growth of 159 percent in its second year. Since then, the company has developed employment opportunities for more than 600 people in southwestern Pennsylvania. Though Alvarado is now a successful entrepreneur and a seasoned professional, he tells HE why his introduction to the industry was less than glamorous.

Ron Alvarado may have stumbled into the staffing industry by chance, but years later, he carved a successful niche providing companies with a much-needed contingent workforce—despite the recession.

“Most of us didn’t grow up with a silver spoon; we had to work very hard to earn what we have. My family owned a dry-cleaning establishment in New York City and I practically grew up in the store. From a very young age, I helped out in the business and as I reached my teen years, I began taking on more responsibilities and I eventually found myself having to wear multiple hats and operate in a fast-paced environment. It was exhausting, but I learned how to multitask and prioritize my daily activities.

I stumbled upon the staffing business in 1984 and I had no idea what it was about. At the time, I was an outside salesperson for a copier company covering the Long Island market and I owned an old, beat up AMC Pacer [automobile]. While driving to a sales meeting, the car broke down. I happened to be wearing brand-new shoes and after walking about a mile to get to the office, I developed severe blisters. The Pacer never started again. Carless, I was forced to find a job that didn’t require driving. I saw an ad for a staffing salesperson in Manhattan and the rest is history. I’ve been in the business ever since.

I saw a business opportunity while working with a start-up that focused on developing national and international staffing programs for Fortune 1000 companies. I felt that small/midsized users of staffing could benefit from the type of programs I was developing for Fortune 1000 firms. I began giving serious thought to how my business would look and I spent many days drafting a solid, pragmatic-business plan. When I launched Novus, no one was hiring full-time employees, but several industry verticals were actively hiring temporary workers. We officially opened our doors in February 2009 and within two months we were working on 400 job openings. Last year, we secured our first RPO [Recruitment Process Outsourcing] project and have since successfully completed four additional RPO engagements. Earlier this year, we secured our first MSP [Managed Services Provider] engagement. We’ve executed all of the key elements in that original business plan.

A key part of our strategy has been a very focused approach to the type of business skill sets we service. The mortgage-services industry was created in Pittsburgh and we have a high concentration of these companies within a 25-mile radius of our office. The cyclical nature of these businesses creates a perfect scenario for the use of a contingent workforce. Our goal, from the outset, was to position Novus as a market-leader in this niche and I’m happy to say we have accomplished this.

Young people should seriously consider entrepreneurship as a career option. I spent many years employed by someone else. I was able to climb the corporate ladder; I had the big corner office and all of the frills associated with being a senior manager in a large company, but nothing compares to building your own company from scratch, creating your company culture, and knowing that the time and effort you put in today will reap benefits for many years to come.”