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Business Observer Friday, Jul. 17, 2015 6 years ago

Seeing stars

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Going from sales to owning the company can be a big leap. A Tampa entrepreneur has a plan to navigate the challenges.
by: Michael Hinman Tampa Bay Reporter

When Victoria Henrich opened the Tampa Bay division of Jacksonville-based staffing company Agility HR Group in 2011, the elementary education and psychology major's only experience in staffing was as a salesperson for Agility.

Today, she manages 15 employees, nearly two dozen clients, and her own company: Earlier this month, Agility president Mike Rolewicz sold the local division to Henrich, who has since re-launched it, naming the business 5-Star Staffing Solutions.

“I have five children, and I wanted to create a legacy for them,” says Henrich, who moved to Pasco County in 2007, where 5-Star is now based. “I told Mike that he created this little incubator for me, which helped me grow into who I am today. I started doing more and more myself, and depending on him less, and I got to the point where I needed more for myself, to feel fulfilled and in control.”

Henrich discussed the future of Agility's Tampa division with Rolewicz this past spring. Her ideas were either to franchise the Tampa division to her, make her a partner in Agility overall, or the option she preferred and eventually won, selling to her outright. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

“I was terrified and I was excited at the same time,” Henrich says. “It was definitely a new realm for me.”

5-Star officially launched July 1, a boutique-style staffing company focused primarily on companies with less than 50 employees. Like any staffing company, Henrich has to work both sides of the business -- finding strong employee talent willing to work temporary jobs, and clients who use them.

When she first opened the Tampa office, Henrich called law firms, an industry used to working with staffing companies. She quickly supplied those firms with skilled people working everything from administration to file clerks to paralegals.

Henrich has since expanded into other areas, including medical office, information technology and accounting.

Staffing in the Tampa area is a competitive industry. But Henrich doesn't go up against larger companies. She instead fills niches those companies miss. Her recruiters record online interviews with potential temps, and digitally package that video with other candidate background history. That lets clients see and hear the people Henrich's team has, and typically avoids rejections after a placement is made.

Henrich also focuses on the temps themselves, something she says other agencies typically miss.

“You hear horror stories about how applicants were made to sit in an office for three hours, never offered any water, and not knowing what's going on,” Henrich says. “And when you finally get called back into an interview, it's usually a manager who looks up for a second when they walk in, take a quick look, and say that's all they needed.”

Henrich's team usually interviews candidates only when there is a possible match. Doing that helps Henrich maintain a strong pool of applicants to pull from, attracting the kind of talent she says would typically avoid staffing companies altogether.

Even with more than four years of incubation under Agility and a client list that carried over from her days with the company, Henrich knows she's in startup survival mode — at least for now.

“Staffing is definitely a service that not everyone can afford or understand how it can help them,” Henrich says. “It's kind of like having a maid. No one wants to clean their own toilets, so when you're making good money, you hire one. But when times get tough, the maid is the first to go.

“We know that can happen, but we're going to keep diversifying and keep proving our worth to clients, so that in good times or bad, we'll still be good.”

Follow Michael Hinman on Twitter @BizTampaBay

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