BE 100s 2012 Company of the Year: Act-1 Group

Service Leadership

Act-1 staff getting the job done

In addition to assisting with talent acquisition and staffing management, it has created an array of services for its efficiency-minded, cost-conscious corporate clientele: A-Check America facilitates employee background checks, CTA Travel handles corporate travel, DSSI provides document and file management services, and California National University offers distance learning courses.

To attest to Bryant Howroyd’s visionary leadership, she directed her team to develop Agile-1 more than 10 years ago. Run by Peter Carvalho, its current president, the unit is its fastest-growing vertical–driving international expansion through global talent supply chain management services. Currently operating in countries that include the United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, Canada, and South Korea, Carvalho says that operations will expand to a minimum of eight countries this year and several more by the end of 2013. “Given that our foundation is staffing, we constantly look for ways to complement and supplement that that make us stand out just a little bit with the competition,” explains Bryant, the former president of Agile-1 who now directs operations for the company’s online university.

The development of each new company and service, however, is beyond fulfilling a business requirement. ACT-1’s strategy is to implement services that support and build on its clients’ business focus. “Regardless of how they are looking for talent, it’s important for us to understand what their own strategic process is for their growth, how talent plays into that,” explains Bryant Howroyd. “Many times we know more about their strengths than they do. But we always have to make sure they own that information and that they access it in a way that can be meaningful to them as they deliver and plan their growth.”

One such company is Merck, which contracted ACT-1’s services in 2005 to manage the firm’s contingent labor force. “Initially ACT-1 provided Merck with contingent staffing as well as processes and technologies to streamline the life cycle of a contingent worker from pre-hire to exit,” explains Aaron Dent, vice president of indirect procurement at Merck & Co. “This approach was very innovative.  No other staffing company had focused on managing contingent works in this way.” In late 2010, Merck challenged Agile-1 to demonstrate its full sourcing and supplier management capabilities. “They did, and did this so well that Merck awarded Agile-1 with an exclusive contractual relationship to provide us with all our managed staffing needs. This arrangement frees up Merck resources in my organization to work on other value-added initiatives.”

It’s that level of customer service that differentiates ACT-1 from its competitors. “If you’re simply delivering great people to an organization at the time they need it, you’re a part of their service team,” Bryant Howroyd states. “But if you’re delivering it in a way that they can actually learn from the information and plan forward and do that in a cost-effective manner, you’ve become strategic to that organization. Our growth is designed that we become strategic to the companies we work with. If you are a service provider, that may be a first foot into the door, but if you stay a service provider, you’re not guaranteed to stay at the table.”

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