Thirty-five years ago, I decided to take a job at Lucas Group for one year.
I was ready to get out of the fast-food business and get into sales, and I had been a candidate placed by Lucas Group previously. When I came back to Lucas Group to look for a sales position, they asked me if I would consider being a recruiter. This was in 1985 and most of that decade was a recession. I had been married for six months and with salary sales positions being nonexistence, I thought I would give it a try for a year or so. But after 10 months and winning the corporate sales trip hitting 190% of goal, I was promoted to a Team Lead. So, after 12 months I thought I would give it another year.
Halfway through the next year, I was promoted again, this time to managing partner. During my tenure as a managing partner, I grew the largest branch the company had ever had, 41 recruiters and three team leads.
I feel very blessed. I’ve been fortunate to see my hard work pay off both career and income wise. One reason for my success was I concentrated on making everyone around me successful, which is the key to success in this business. As a manager, I always made decisions based on if it would help the recruiter be successful verses my personal gain. Do the right thing for recruiters, candidates and clients and you will be successful. Not every industry is like that, but at Lucas Group, they empowered me to look after people.
Celebrating 50 years
As Lucas Group celebrates its 50th anniversary, I keep thinking of the expression “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Technology has changed the way we conduct business, but the heart of who we are and how we work hasn’t changed. Our values—honorable, inclusive, collaborative, driven, innovative—are written down now, but this is who we’ve always been. Art Lucas, our founder, is a very upfront, honest, honorable man. These qualities are the foundation the company was built on, always do the right thing for your candidates and clients. He often reminded us: The one thing you can control is your reputation in the marketplace, and if you do the right thing, people will remember that.
I truly believe that our values created the solid foundation that has made Lucas Group so successful and such a great place to work. We care about people—helping companies and helping candidates grow. Changing jobs is one of the most intimate decisions someone must make in their lifetime, and we have the opportunity to work with them. We take the trust they put in us very seriously.
As it stands today, I’m the oldest Lucas Group employee with 35 years of tenure. The company was a lot smaller when I joined—a lot more intimate. We have a lot of tenure in our company and that really stands out in the industry. Our average tenure is a little over 7 years and in some branches, it is 15 to 20 years. Retention numbers like ours are rare, but we’ve been able to keep our people because we’ve always kept our values close.
When you get big, things do change, but if the heart of the company is honorable and caring, like Lucas Group’s is, that change doesn’t mean much to the foundation of who you are. We still hire the same way—one conversation at a time. We still treat people with compassion and care.
Through the years, there have been shifts that people thought would kill our business, but they never have. We’ve outlasted trends and fads. I think we’ve made it through the ups and downs, in part, because of Art and how often he flexed our business model to respond to the economic trends. I’ve been through multiple recessions with Lucas Group. And more than anything, I think our reputation and our culture have kept us solid.
The people here are what make us successful
When I interview someone that wants to get into our business, I always encourage people to interview with multiple firms. Once people interview with a different group, then they’ll really know what makes us special. We’re clear, honest, upfront, and accountable for our culture. I don’t care who you ask in our company, they’ll always give you an honest answer.
Art Lucas believed the greatest assets of the company went down the elevator every night and came back up the elevator in the morning—his greatest assets were the people he hired. And when you treat people like they are the most important thing you have, they treat each other well. Everybody here wants to be number one, but everybody also wants to see their teammates succeed. We all play nice in the sandbox. People that don’t get along well with others, that don’t like collaborating shouldn’t work here. They will be spotted very quickly because we’re all very friendly and team oriented.
Lucas Groups culture and processes are geared toward helping everyone make money. Because that engages team members. Our training, our software, the management training—it’s all pointed toward making recruiters successful.
As a leader I look for people that are going to love their work, because that is really the key to being successful. You must like what you do otherwise it doesn’t work. If you get bitten by the placement bug, you’ll be in it forever. When I interview people I say, “The great thing about this job is we help companies solve problems, we help candidates grow their career, and when we do that, we can have great success.” Do you have the fortitude to keep pushing through until you get those yeses? Some people can handle it and some people can’t.
I count myself lucky to have been able to hire some great people to join my teams across Lucas Group, and even more grateful to have left my mark on a company with such honorable character. And I’m very lucky, because I love what I do. It’s hard to believe I ever thought this could be a short-term job. Every year I said, “just one more year,” but Lucas Group gave me plenty of reasons to stick around. So while some of my peers are eyeing retirement, I think I’ll give Lucas Group as many years as they will allow me to continue working.