Zoom calls. Mask wearing. Instacart. Supply chains under pressure. Airline bankruptcies.
The pandemic has changed some things forever. Some of these things are top of mind, others less so.
When Aussie executive Simon Dealy co-founded HIRE Technologies (HIRE Technologies Stock Quote, Chart, News, Analysts, Financials TSXV:HIRE) in 2017 he could not have possibly predicted the effect that COVID-19 would have on the staffing industry a little more than two years later. But the instinct to digitize the company from the ground up proved prescient. Today, HIRE is an emerging leader in a nascent industry Dealy says has “shaken traditional notions of employment”.
Cantech Letter talked to Simon Dealy, CEO of HIRE about how staffing has been flipped on its head and where his company fits in.
Simon, can you tell us what HIRE Technologies does?
HIRE Technologies focuses on digitizing and modernizing human resources as a business. We are doing this in a heavily fragmented staffing industry, with the status quo heavily disrupted by new technologies and the worst pandemic’s effects in a century. The pandemic has reset the competitive landscape across the globe. We are the first and only Canadian public consolidator of staffing, IT, and HR consulting firms, with a vision to become a global organization and a disruptor in the recruitment space.
How did the company come together?
The company was founded in 2017 when me and Allan Hartley were approached by our former board member David Carbonaro with the idea of executing a capital allocation strategy within the staffing industry. Allan took on CEO and I became President and set up and ran on that strategy while preparing the company to list on the TSXV. The company was successful in listing on the TSX Venture Exchange at the end of 2019, when I took over as CEO of the newly public company in April 2020.
What inefficiency is HIRE addressing?
As a consolidator, we help smaller staffing, and IT firms compete with their larger counterparts by providing them with the resources, technology, and expertise to win more market share. Many staffing firms find digitization of their services to be challenging, yet they recognize its necessity. HIRE provides this digital piece. By building a network of smart entrepreneurs we also offer the possibility of learning from one another so that each brand under our umbrella can better adapt to the changing demands of employment.
Broadly, how does the COVID-19 pandemic affect staffing?
The pandemic has shaken traditional notions of employment and therefore forced companies to rethink their staffing strategies. There is a greater acceptance of remote work, employers are reassessing the 9-5 working schedule, companies are relying more on technology to screen and recruit talent, and with all this comes the globalization of staffing. What is coming out as certain is that technology is a key piece in the new normal of employment.
Do you think there will be permanent changes to the space as a result of this pandemic?
Employment may never fully return to what it was pre-pandemic. Many companies pivoted to remote work out of necessity and are finding that their workforce can be just as productive as in the office and in some cases even more so. There’s a huge number of organizations that have already announced a permanent shift to remote work. By embracing remote work companies save on costs, are less restricted by geography when it comes to recruiting top talent, and employees benefit by having more flexibility and more opportunities. Greater reliance on technology in recruitment is another thing that is going to stick. Interviewing, for example, is way more efficient using video conferencing, increasing the number of meetings a candidate will conduct with a prospective employer. Newer generations of employees want to use technology mobile friendly technologies in all aspects of their lives, including searching for a new job, working through the interview process, and managing their careers.
Speaking of COVID-19, can you tell us a bit about the recent investment you made in Atlas ID?
Atlas ID is a digital solution to managing COVID-19 risk and maintaining a safe work environment. While many businesses could shut down and work remotely to avoid risk, many others could not do this and must continue to operate on-premises. Mitigating this risk and ensuring their workforce’s health and safety is of utmost importance, but it is not necessarily what they could manage. Atlas ID is digital wallet solution that provides an end to end process to have employees tested and those test results securely distributed. The employee “owns” the data in this heavily encrypted digital wallet and it is the employee who determines who can see the test results. Atlas ID, HIRE’s first technology product, can be used for any type of workforce testing, not just for COVID-19, post pandemic.
You recently acquired The Headhunters Recruitment Inc. What does that pickup do for you?
The Headhunters expanded the company’s footprint across Canada and expanded our list of services. The Headhunters is a recognized and established brand in the western provinces with a brilliant leadership team and robust workplace processes. HIRE has been able to leverage our existing IT services business unit, Provision, into the Headhunter client database as IT was not previously a focus for them. It created increased synergies and increased the organic growth potential of both business units.
Is HIRE more focused on acquisitions than organic growth?
HIRE is a capital allocator, primarily focused on executing accretive acquisitions while providing the support and communications structure to allow its acquired business units to reduce their cost infrastructure, focus on core business objectives and accelerate their organic growth.
What are your goals for 2021?
HIRE will continue to execute its strategic plan of identifying accretive acquisitions. The company will likely acquire business units in more regional areas in Canada while also completing acquisitions in the United States market. A focus for 2021 will be to bring in more SaaS technologies to support the “technology-first” vision – technologies that will complement existing business units while also providing additional revenue streams to the company.
Cantech Letter’s Nick Waddell is a shareholder of HIRE Technologies and the company is an annual sponsor of the site.