Center 615 sat down with members Jay and Florin from StaffSource, a recruiting agency for IT, administrative, engineering, and accounting/finance jobs, and asked our members about their experiences working with the company.
The day I interviewed Jay and Florin from StaffSource was a blazing hot, muggy Nashvillian July day, yet the two of them were wearing pleated slacks and pressed long sleeve button-down shirts, which came off as a very strong commitment to a professional presence. Come to think of it, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anyone from StaffSource wearing anything but outfits that would blend in very well at Wall Street. The sharp aesthetic even included their haircut, a classic crew cut combed to the side, and a freshly shaven face to compliment. If there was anybody I would trust to land me a highly competitive job, it would be them. While undeniably professional in every sense, their demeanor additionally leaned towards what some would call “good ol’ southern boys”. Very polite, very trustworthy.
As they stepped into the 90s-mixed-with-modern, industrial-mixed-with-corporate Bricks building for the first time, through the double glass doors, they instantly commented how the temp-controlled air felt like a sip of ice water. That refreshing comment carried us into the Dyana conference room, where we began the casual interview.
Andra: What is your role exactly at StaffSource?
Jay Hageman: So mine, I’m the managing partner for the technology group
Florin Matei: I’m the business development manager for technology
A: And how long have you been working there?
J: I’ve been 2 years
F: A year and 1 month
A: How did you discover StaffSource?
J: I used to be a competitor. So, I worked for a competing company and left. And I had a connection to Staff Source, and our Founder & CEO called me up and recruited me in.
A: And what about you?
F: John, our CEO, came by the university, and I had lunch with him.
A: Which university?
F: University of Tennessee
A: Oh, in Knoxville, right? So you guys both went to UT?
J: I went to UT as well, yes.
A: And what years did you graduate, were they different years?
J: I graduated in 2009.
A: So you didn’t cross paths over there or anything?
Both: No, no, nah
F: I graduated in 2018.
A: Oh, last year?
A: Well, congratulations!
A: Uhm, let’s see…What is your favorite part about working at StaffSource?
J: I think, for me, and this is StaffSource, you know, I think probably industry-wide, is no two days are the same, and it’s really an adventure every day. You never know what you’re going to see, and usually it’s positive outcomes. But I think there’s a lot of fun in not having a very “cookie cutter” work day.
A: And you?
F: I like the people and the culture.
A: Nice, how do you describe the culture?
F: Very collaborative, as well as, a very sales-y type of aggressive environment.
A: So it really pushes you to do your best?
F: Oh, yeah!
J: I think it’s highly competitive. Highly collaborative. Like, we have four c’s. It’s compensation, competitiveness, competency, and character. We leverage those four c’s to hopefully make a very positive work environment. So, we’re competing, and ultimately getting great paychecks because of that.
A: So you get commission?
A: That definitely helps with motivation.
A: What is your proudest achievement working at StaffSource?
F: Mine’s easy, I was recruiter of the year, last year.
A: Oh, ok!
J: I think mine is, uhm, developing, and fostering, and seeing our culture go from point A to point B. When I first started two years ago. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t to the level that it is now. I think, as I look back, it’s really a development of the culture.
A: Nice, so you’ve seen it grow over the years?
J: It’s two years, but yeah. It’s grown, and it’s just developed a whole different vibe than it was two years ago, which is a positive thing. Now, it’s incredibly entrepreneurial, and there’s just a high performance type of mindset.
A: What has been the biggest challenge?
F: Holding yourself accountable, that was mine. So, if you have a given number to hit, quota to hit, you’re holding yourself accountable to that. What are you doing to achieve it?…You didn’t meet it…Did you meet it? And evaluating, kind of seeing where you need to go.
J: I think it’s extreme accountability, what he’s saying. I think…we’re operating in a market where unemployment is super super low. Specifically, the skill sets that we focus in, unemployment is next to zero. As a result, we have a ton of clients that are begging for people. Really the hardest thing to find right now is super qualified candidates at high volume. In a nutshell, and from a business perspective, our biggest challenge is manufacturing product that our customers want.
A: And how do you overcome that challenge?
J: I would say, kind of what Florin said, extreme accountability. And really, like, the “whatever it takes” type of attitude. And our competitiveness, fostering that within the culture breeds success when things are tough, and it breeds a ton of success when things are a lot easier, too.
A: What goal are you striving towards for StaffSource?
J: We want to be a 100 million dollar company in 2024.
A: What’s the plan for that? How would you achieve that?
J: We need 50 salespeople. So, 50 salespeople at 2 million dollars, per sales per person, is what I would say the structure of the goal is. So we map out…I can’t say what our quarterly or our yearly goals are right this second. We have a set of graduated plans to get to our company vision, and what we talk about internally is getting to 100 million. Also, we’re employee owned, so with that the employees, and the partners, if we’re at 100 million dollars, valuation puts us at about 70 to 80 million, which makes all of our internal team millionaires. It’s a big deal, and it goes back to the compensation piece that we talked about.
A: You have more than one location, right? How does that work with connecting? How tied are you with the other StaffSource locations?
J: Very tied. We operate just the technology side of the business. Knoxville has a professional side that does accounting and finance and things like that. But the technology group is mostly centered here in Nashville. We do have some folks in East Tennessee that we support. South Florida and Philadelphia as well. But we’re incredibly tied together as far as communication. We use a platform that is similar to Slack to internally communicate. And then two times a day we have a meeting, an all hands meeting. Then the people that are working in Knoxville or any of the other locations, they can FaceTime. So basically we have a video meeting.
A: Do you ever visit other locations?
A: How often would you say you do that?
J: I’m in Knoxville, like, every week. Florin probably comes out quarterly, or so.
A: There’s a really good Indian restaurant in Knoxville.
A: I don’t remember the name . . .
J: I just moved to Nashville two years ago, and Tandur is my favorite Indian place. I keep telling the Tandur guys to come out here, because it’s right by our office out there, that I used to live really close to. They need to come out here. I saw there’s a great restaurant going in to the building over here.
J: Yeah, there’s one in Charlotte. My brother lives in Charlotte, and he says it’s fantastic. He said to me, “Hey, you have to go to this place! It looks like it’s coming to Nashville.” He had no idea it was right below our office, but we’re excited for that.
A: Yeah, I can’t wait!
J: We go to Greko probably two to three times a week, too.
J: It’s so close and good.
A: What do you get at Greko?
F: Athenian chicken!
J: Yeah, I get that, the pitas, the salad. Honestly everything I’ve ever gotten there is great! Have you been yet?
A: No, I haven’t . . . it’s on my list
J: It’s super good.
A: I definitely want to go.
A: What do you like about being in this location, and being at Center 615, or Loft?
F: For me, it’s the 6 minute drive. And I like the easy access to and from the highway. And then you’ve got Turnip Truck right across the street.
J: Yeah, I mean, I would echo similar. I would say it’s cool to work around other small growing companies. It doesn’t hurt that Greko is here, and that Turnip Truck is literally right next door as well. But in addition, I would say working around a lot of other small companies that probably have similar ambitions to us, from a growth perspective.
A: You’re kind of all on the same page and there to help each other out?
J: Yeah, and we’ve done some business with some other businesses within the center too. So, that helps as well.
A: If you could travel back in time to your first day working at Staff Source, and could give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
F: Don’t be scared to jump on the cell phone.
A: What do you mean by that, exactly?
F: Oh, we make a lot of cold calls. That’s a lot of what we do. And it’s really not scary to call people, but at first it was a little bit intimidating. It was my first job out of college, but now I can call anyone.
J: Uhm, I’m gonna say what my advice would be to someone starting, or really anybody starting in this industry, is come in with an open mind. Come in ready to work really really hard, and expect to get everything that you put in. The work that you put in will be rewarded at a very very high level. It’s very difficult work, but it rewards at an incredibly high level. We’re not only making really good money, but we impact people’s lives and their livelihoods, so it can be rewarding on that side as well. It’s not just financial compensation.
A: So, you’re helping out other businesses and stuff?
J: Yeah, so helping out businesses, helping them grow. And then, obviously, helping individual people grow within their careers as well. A lot of the people we place are getting pretty large raises, about 10 to 20 to 30 grand. It’s a big deal for them and their families, and it obviously solves a business need for our customers as well.
A: If you could describe your experience working at StaffSource in five words, what would they be? It doesn’t have to be exactly five.
J: Hmm…let me get creative here. Uhm…
J: Yeah, competitive is the simple one. Competitive, motivating.
J: Uhm . . . probably results-oriented. I know that’s not one word, but results-oriented is probably really accurate.
A: So, it’s very much so “whatever you want out is what you have to put in”?
J: Yeah, so you get what you put in. And we’re a total meritocracy. We don’t promote based on how long somebody has been with us. We promote based on how well they perform with us and pretty much hire from within, promote from within. It’s truly a “what you put in”, and if you put in A work, you get an A out of it. If you put in C work, you get a C out of it. If you put in a D or an F, you’d probably get a pink slip out of it…
A: With all the competition between StaffSource employees, does it ever get kind of…I don’t want to say “bad blood” that happens in the office, but…
F: I would say, we’re competitors, we’re not enemies.
J: Yes, we’re healthy competitors, so there’s no animosity. We don’t really compete with each other on, like, specific work assignments. We compete with each other on how well we can perform individually, and as a company. Our divisions compete with each other, like, “hey, who can be the most profitable, and who can grow the most?” And then our people compete kind of with each other, like, “hey, where do I stand? Am I at the top of the leaderboard? Am I at the bottom?” Basically, it all really comes down to money, like who is making the most money for the company and ultimately themselves? And that’s kind of how the competition comes. There’s no cut-throat part of it, it’s not like, “hey, Florin’s got this, I need to backstab him to get it to me.” So, we’re all structured in a way to where there’s no way for me to go steal from Florin for my gain. We’re all incentivized to “Florin’s rising up, so I’ll probably rise too,” because high tides lift all boats.
A: Besides higher pay, are there any other prizes StaffSource offers, like trophies, or going out to lunch, or something like that?
J: Uhm, we go out to lunch a lot together. And it’s just, you know, because you’re in battle with each other. So, a lot of the time you’re pretty close friends. We do internal competitions too, whether it’s a growth competition from a gross margin perspective, or whether it’s just as simple as making the most calls in a week. We do competitions there, so we give out either cash prizes or…I think for the week of memorial day we did something along the lines of, like, a Yeti cooler and something else, and you could pick what you wanted. But it’s typically every three weeks we’ll have an internal competition. And so with the communications system we use, it’s really similar to Slack. It’s by RingCentral; it’s called Glip. We have a scoreboard that’s up there all the time. And then we’re all the time kind of talking smack back and forth, in a healthy and professional manor.
A: Are there any questions you have for me, or about Center 615?
F: When is the restaurant going to be opening up?
A: Oh yeah! I don’t know how much information I can give out about Hawker’s…
J: Didn’t they say in December?
A: Yeah, towards the end of the year. It’s not going to be any time relatively soon, but…
F: Yeah, I figured. They like tore everything out of there.
A: They completely gutted it. So, we’ll see how long it takes for them to build what they want to build.
J: Yeah, we’ll see. Hopefully by the end of the year, I would say. It looked good. I’ve never been to one of their restaurants, but apparently the one in Charlotte is great.
A: It’s going to be awesome, I know that.
F: Question for Center 615: can we somehow get discounts at Greko?
A: …I’ll look into that
J: I would say for this area, and this is not like a Center 615 thing, the more restaurants and stuff we can get, I would say the better. Because this area is growing a ton, and it’s revitalizing a lot.
A: And there’s plans to keep growing. It’s not slowing down.
A: Is there a business you would like to collaborate with, or even just have a chat or meeting with?
J: We don’t know too much about the companies at the Main Building. We know about the ones on our side at Loft.
F: Is there a way that we can see all the companies and what they do?
A: Yeah, they’re on the website. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom, under “C615 Community” it says “Member Directory” and if you click on that, then it has the building, suite number, and then if the company has a website, it will have a link to the website.
F: Gotcha, cool.
J: There aren’t any suggestions or anything that I have.
A: Alright, well that’s it!
J: Alright, well, thank you!
A: Thanks for your time!
StaffSource is located in our Loft building, 626A Main Street, right across from the Bricks building, and between Greg’s Auto Repair and Bolton’s.
We at Center 615 would like to thank StaffSource, Jay, and Florin for being part of the community and giving us the opportunity to interview them for this spotlight post.
If you’re a business at Center 615 interested in being a featured member, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (615) 457-1596 x103 leaving your name, business name, and preferred method of contact.