The New Face of Labor

 


By LAWRENCE SILVER

Freeman Staff

 

WAUKESHA – Human Resource Services, Inc. President and CEO Jessica Ollenburg pulled her company’s Milwaukee headquarters out to Waukesha in 2005 to follow a growing market of customers.

Now Ollenburg said HRS plans to double revenue by 2010 and has plans to go national next year.

Ollenburg said more employees will be needed to accomplish the firm’s goals.

“We moved because of the growth of business in Waukesha County,” Ollenburg said. “We found many of our clients were moving out to Waukesha County and we wanted a point of distribution. But now we’re finding there is more demand on our Waukesha (headquarters) than our Milwaukee office.”

While manufacturing continues to represent the highest percentage of Waukesha County workers, the professional and business services sector is proving to represent a rapidly growing portion of the Waukesha County work force.

Jeff Sachse, a labor economist with the state Department of Workforce Development stationed in Pewaukee, said the four-county area should expect 17 percent growth, or 9,500 jobs, over the next 10 years in the area of business and professional services. That area includes Waukesha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, and Washington counties.

Bill Mitchell, president of Pewaukee-based Waukesha County Economic Development Corp., said the percentage of workers in the business and professional services field grew from 10.8 percent to 11.8 percent in Waukesha County over the last four years.

“Out of 226,000 workers, that’s a big number,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said the county’s largest sector of growth within the business and professional services field was in finance, insurance and real estate.

“I think business services is looking to expand to get closer to customer pockets,” Mitchell said. “Also because there is less investment. There is no need to buy equipment.”

Sachse said the growth of business and professional services in Waukesha County is part of a natural progression.

After manufacturing and residential businesses started moving to the area in the 1990s, he said, service firms were bound to follow.

“When you look at this from an economic perspective, service industries’ growth is lagging behind that of manufacturing and residential,” Sachse said. “It seems to be a natural progression that they followed the other industries out of Milwaukee.”

Anticipated growth

 

When Director of Marketing Traci Catalano started to work at Waukesha-based R&R Insurance Services Inc. six years ago, the company had 93 employees, she said.

Today the company has 152 employees and like HRS, the company expects to double its revenue by 2010.

Catalano said the company’s growth is due to the increasing needs of its customers. People rely on R&R Insurance to help them with planning their business, she said.

“We know how to apply the of a controller or a (chief financial officer) in niched areas to dig down to the problem areas,” Catalano said. “We’re not just insurance. We’re addressing safety issues that are affecting the price of premiums.”

The growth in the business and professional services industries relates directly to the change of industry leaders, Ollenburg said.

Heads of companies, especially young companies, want to spend more time specializing in their focus areas, she said.

“When we started in 1983, we were way too early,” Ollenburg said. “But now there is an understanding of the value, as a financial resource, we can have on the bottom line.”

Terry Jannsen, president of Waukesha-based Jannsen and Co., an accounting and consulting firm, said he sees no reason for growth in the business and professional service industry to stop.

“I think it will continue to grow because more and more people, especially the Gen-Xers, realize the value of family time,” Jannsen said. “They are going to continue to find ways to offload some of the work that is taxing to them, so they can focus on what they do best.”

Slowing ‘brain drain’

 

Sachse said county officials should be enthused by the growth of business and professional services in the county.

Companies that support those services, he said, are attractive to people this area sorely needs; college graduates.

The growth is an incentive for young people to move out to the county and stay here, Sachse said.

“Business services is becoming more and more important to retain as many graduates as we can,” Sachse said. “Our best hope is to develop the business and professional services sector.”

Ollenburg said college students are “beating down their doors” for jobs. Graduates know there is room for growth in the industry, she said.

“With professional and business services there is no limit on where your expertise can go,” Ollenburg said. “It’s infinite.”