A positive culture focused on accountability makes TriCom a great place to work

TriCom Technical Services’ goal is to be the best staffing firm in the Midwest. The company’s workers embrace this goal and are all accountable for helping the company get there. One step on the way: earning a spot on Staffing Industry Analysts’ 2019 Best Staffing Firms to Work For list.

Matt Sharples, founder and chief executive officer of the Leawood, Kansas-based IT staffing firm, attributes the positive workplace culture to strong communication and accountability, a robust education and development program, and an engaged leadership team.

Sharples founded the firm in 1994 with a partner out of his studio apartment. Concerns about the upcoming Y2K transition meant that many companies were looking for temporary IT help, so it was a good time to enter the business. After five years of rapid growth for the firm, Sharples bought out his partner.

The firm has survived what Sharples calls “some pretty tumultuous times” — the bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2001-02, and the recession of 2008-09. By 2012, Sharples had paid back the money he borrowed to buy out his partner, and he was able to focus on growing the business.

Through it all, TriCom has stayed focused on IT staffing — contract, contract-to-hire, and permanent. Today, much of its hiring is for developers, quality assurance, project managers, database administrators and cloud engineers.

“There are a lot of flavors of technology, and the flavors change quite rapidly,” Sharples says. “We are more focused on character, attitude, motivation and culture fit, in addition to making sure they have the technical background.”

The firm is on track for about $24 million in annual revenue, up about 40% from last year. It employs about 23 internal recruiters, account executives and back-office staff. In addition to its headquarters near Kansas City, the firm has one branch office in Minneapolis St. Paul.

Sharples attributes the firm’s place on the list to three factors:

* Strong communication and accountability. The team “has fun working hard,” Sharples says. They celebrate wins with weekly happy hours and emails congratulating team members when they close a deal.

Each quarter, the firm holds a “lunch roulette” event, where employees draw names to be paired with a random colleague to go out to lunch, paid for by the firm.

But they also push themselves — and each other — to work hard.

“There’s no finish line — it’s always about getting a little bit better,” he says. Part of that process is working in the “little nooks and crannies of due diligence to make sure we’re getting the right person for the job.”

* Education and development. In the past year, the firm has added an associate recruiter position, where new recruits are paired with a lead recruiter to learn the ropes. The associate recruiters help with sourcing, qualification calls and reference checking, building the talent pool for the lead recruiters. The program, like an apprenticeship, “is our way of developing our own talent,” Sharples says. It is also an opportunity for more experienced recruiters to develop their management skills.

The firm has also expanded training for employees at all levels. Twice a year, they hold a sales summit, bringing in a speaker for team building. They also have Tech Taco Tuesday, a monthly lunchtime training session where employees learn about developments in technology while eating Mexican food.

* Engaged leadership team. Communication is critical for a firm to have a healthy culture and grow. “We try a lot of different things, and some of them are not going to work,” Sharples says. It’s important for the executive team to hear when something isn’t working – and to get new ideas from leaders at all levels.

To facilitate this, the firm assembles a group of leaders once a quarter — several senior recruiters, the controller, and a few account executives — to meet with the top executives. They talk about ways to keep employee engagement high, as well as evaluating how new initiatives are working or could be improved.

“As the owner, I’m extremely grateful for my people, and humbled that they work here,” Sharples says. “I’m always thinking I can do a little bit better and make it an even better place for them.”