Local small business SearchPros Solutions is already having quite the year — they are one of seven regional finalists for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award, a finalist for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Northern California Award and a recipient of the Sacramento Business Journal Small Business of the Year Award, among other notable achievements.
Small-business success, like that acquired by SearchPros Solutions, requires a lot of “big” things — dreaming big, planning big and executing big, all leading to big results. For SearchPros Solutions Cofounders Myla Ramos, Heather Kocina and Rayna Pearson, big things happened rather quickly leading up to the launch of their company in 2005.
While previously working at a large staffing corporation, the three women nearly wiped out their personal savings accounts to loan money to contractors who were disappointed by their late paychecks, which arrived just days shy of Christmas. That night they started talks of creating their own staffing agency. Within one week, the eager entrepreneurs pulled together a business plan and applied for a business license. Two weeks later, they left their corporate jobs to launch SearchPros Solutions in a small 120-square-foot suite in downtown Sacramento with one laptop, three cell phones and a cheap fold-up table.
“We knew no one, started with a phone book and built everything from scratch,” says Ramos, SearchPros Solutions president and CEO. “Every single customer, every single dollar, came from hard work and perseverance.”
Eleven successful years later, the original three-woman team at SearchPros Solutions expanded to include a team of more than 30 recruiters, who place thousands of employees in 30 states and nine countries for large corporations and companies.
A national full-service staff augmentation firm, SearchPros Solutions helps people find jobs and manages temporary labor for large corporations. “We’re matchmakers,” Ramos says. “We service the candidate, the employee looking for a job … and then we help employers with managing expectations of employees, educating them on the availability and viability of candidates. Managing and protecting both sides, candidates and employers, it’s a difficult juggling act.”
The company faced its first big hurdle when business nearly failed just a few years in, due to the bankruptcy of its primary client. Ramos and team agreed in order to survive they needed to diversify. Failure wasn’t an option. Shifting focus and services, they decided to go after Lockheed Martin, the largest national defense contractor in the country. (Go big or go home, right?) They won the $250 million contract and have worked with Lockheed Martin ever since.
With an impressive client lineup including the U.S. Department of Defense, SMUD, Boeing, Golden 1 Credit Union and Kaiser Permanente, there is no slowing down for the women of SearchPro Solutions. “It’s just a job to other companies,” Ramos says. “This is our livelihood. This is our company. If a customer says, ‘I need you to find me 12 alligator wranglers,’ we will find you the candidates. I don’t care what we have to do.”
And the numbers back it up: Since its inception, the team at SearchPros Solutions have a 100-percent fill ratio, meaning every single job received has been filled, with a 98-percent retention rate once the candidates are placed.
“Businesses that succeed are those that truly love what you do, that you have passion for what you do,” Ramos says. “There were years we should have given up because of challenges … we kept going because we genuinely want to help people.”