As one of the leaders in a growing business segment, Superior Group, a multifaceted staffing and contract labor firm is growing in central Florida, even though the region’s technology economy has been subdued by losses in the space industry and cuts to the defense budget. As the U.S. economy recovers, engineering talent has become harder to find. Superior Group’s leaders are optimistic that growth in central Florida will soon match growth they’ve seen across the nation.
“We’ve been very strong in the defense industry and now growth is stronger in the commercial side,” said Bart Stanley, Superior Group’s vice president for the south region, which includes operations from Virginia to Texas. “The industry is in a growth mode as the economy’s coming back and getting a little busier.”
The private company, founded in 1957, provides traditional contract staffing services, plus direct placement, executive search, recruiting and payroll services. Superior worked with most of the companies at Kennedy Space Center until the shuttle program was canceled in July 2011. However, now they are seeing commercial space companies take the place of government programs.
Positioned for Growth
Companies that cut budgets and workforces during the recession are being cautious about expansion. “As the labor market starts to improve a little bit, it’s harder and harder to find people,” Stanley said. “Companies don’t have the resources to find the people they need.”
Superior Group has millions of resumes on file and can supply job candidates quickly. “We’ll send them (five or six) candidates within 24 hours,” Stanley said.
Superior Group traditionally deals with nearly all the Fortune 1000 companies and specializes in providing engineering talent, though they also provide clerical, assembly, technical, accounting, administrative and IT workers. With offices in Orlando and Palm Bay, the company employs nearly 1,000 contract workers throughout central Florida and thousands more across the nation.
“Our niche is to deal with the larger companies,” Stanley said. “We have a database of millions of candidates nationwide.” (The company also works with the job boards Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com.) “We have the ability to find a lot of candidates very quickly. We automate the
A Changing Dynamic
Contract workers enjoy having a relationship with Superior Group. “You get to move around, but right now I’m working for a company that’s a pretty nice company to work for,” said Mechanical Engineer Jeff Cunningham, who has worked for Superior Group since 2005. “The potential is there to go permanent.”
Cunningham is happy as a contractor. He says the pay is good, though benefits are generally less than in a full-time position. “It’s all in what you negotiate,” he said. He has noticed, however, that many contract engineers are choosing to take permanent jobs, a choice he might prefer as he gets older; whereas, the younger workforce is increasingly opting for a contract position.
Superior supplies companies with one to more than 100 workers for contracts that typically last from a week to a year. Many companies make permanent hires from among contract workers. Stanley estimates that about a quarter of contract jobs result in permanent employment for workers from Superior Group. Companies have followed a trend of using contract workers, which allows them to gauge whether the project and the employees will succeed before investing in expanding their permanent workforce.
“The whole workforce dynamic has changed over the last few years,” Stanley said. Superior is but one of several staffing companies in central Florida that are seeing growth.
“Certainly they have a respected brand name in the industry, doing it as long as they have,” said Bill Pepper, managing partner for Kavaliro, a smaller central Florida company that focuses on providing IT workers and software engineers. With unemployment in technology fields at less than 2 percent, Peppler said Superior’s brand relaunch, focus on engineering, its social media outreach and efforts to base personnel on site with their clients has worked.
“I think that’s been a successful model for them, and we’ve seen a lot of companies going toward that model,” Peppler said. “The industry as a whole is doing very, very well.”
COMPANIES UNDER THE SUPERIOR GROUP UMBRELLA
• Superior Talent Resources, Inc.
• Superior Workforce Solutions, Inc.
• Superior Shared Services, Inc.
• Superior Design Co., Inc.