Mark Nelson considers himself to be a “relationship builder.” The president of The Nelson Family of Companies (including Nelson Staffing Solutions, which has won Best Of every year we’ve had this category) spends most of his workday connecting with people. And this makes sense: Nelson Staffing deals in the people business by helping companies find the right person for the right job. It is, as Nelson himself says, “one of the only social services you can make a profit at.
“The way I look at it, every person I meet, I can help in some way,” he says. “Whether it’s trying to find the right company for the person or the right talent for the company, it’s a job that’s really philanthropic by nature.”
Nelson has been helping people for more than 38 years. Mark’s father, Gary Nelson, started the company in 1970 in San Rafael. Since then, it’s expanded from placing executives in businesses to a wide variety of staffing services and six different companies. In addition to temp staffing, Nelson finds employees for a variety of industries including accounting, engineering, law, wine and technology.
Another branch of the company, WorkforceLogic, helps businesses manage their contingent workforce. For example, in 2006, Workforce Logic signed on Google as a client and began managing the technology giant’s entire contingent workforce program, meaning all non-full-time employees. Other parts of Nelson Staffing include NelsonJobs.com, an online job board, and HRhome, an online resource for HR professionals.
Nelson started finding employees for specific industries in the 1980s, because it found it could do a better job of finding good employees if it specialized in specific industry needs.
“The accounting types prefer to deal with people who know their language, the bells and whistles of accounting, somebody who understands them,” explains Nelson. “It’s the same thing with technology. Those people want to deal with folks who know the industry. It’s a lot easier for placement folks to find people when they have a niche specialty.”
Although hiring is slowing down these days, there’s no stopping Nelson Staffing Solutions, which is still opening new offices and expanding its Web presence. But even as it grows, it will remain true to the relationship building at the core of its business.
“My dad has driven into my brain that, to have a good business, you really have to attract and retain talent, and you have to build outstanding relationships,” says Nelson. “This business is all about the people who work for us. They’re unbelievable folks who work really, really hard.”
Despite all his expertise, in fact, Nelson is still learning from his dad, who remains CEO of Nelson Staffing Solutions to this day.
“I’d never say I took over the company,” laughs Nelson. “I supplemented him. No one takes over from Gary.”