Dave McDowell, president, Austin Nichols TechnicalDave McDowell, president
Austin Nichols started out in a small office in St. Joseph, Missouri, back in 1988, and has since grown into one of the premiere direct hire and contract recruiting firms for manufacturing and engineering recruiting in Kansas City.

In an exclusive interview with Manage HR, Dave McDowell, President of Austin Nichols Technical Search, shares how his company’s 100 years of combined experience in manufacturing and engineering recruiting, and prioritizing transparency and adaptability, has helped them achieve a firm footing in the domain.

Hiring Beyond Resumes

Our selection process is not a mere evaluation of resumes. We have a detailed, in-depth process to analyze a candidate, in contrast to just reviewing if they look good on paper.

We follow a 16-step methodology that is unique to us. Its roots are attached to my years of experience as the division manager of a large recruiting firm.

We tweaked and adjusted the methodology to suit the changing market needs. The steps vary according to the type of hire and the industry.

We thoroughly interview the candidates, including using behavior-based analyses to identify their personality traits. This is based on our constant understanding that a candidate’s success or failure is significantly impacted by their personality traits, rather than their actual ability to do a job. We dot the I’s and cross the T’s to understand what the candidate is really about. It includes understanding why they left their previous job, their objectives in moving forward, and how they deal with conflicts.

More than anything, we put ourselves in our customer’s shoes to understand the consequences associated with a bad hiring decision.

Contingent Recruitment Done Right

Our mission is to do the right things for the right reasons. What we mean by that is we always have our focus on placing hires that are happy and productive for long term. As such, the fee is a by-product of our actions, not a focal point. Our interest lies in developing long-term business relationships instead of the short-term commission mentality that exists with many recruiters.

We believe in treating customers honestly and fairly to enhance the chances of them returning to us. It is key to building strong customer relationships for life. It is undoubtedly one of our strengths, and that’s how we have customers who have been with us for 25 to 30 years.

We also practice what we preach. We have very little turnover. Our average tenure within Austin Nichols is 12 years. Perhaps the biggest difference is the quality of our staff that our client companies and candidates work with.

Our value-driven mindset and collaborative approach over a hardcore sales approach have significantly influenced strong relationships.

Effectively Addressing Talent Shortages

The recruitment space is witnessing a talent shortage like never before in every field of work. Employers are competing for talent. I have been in the staffing industry for 43 years, and there has never been a shortage of workers like today. This makes it an ideal market for staffing firms like us, because our expertise in the domain caters to the demand to hire the right talent with the required skill sets.

We have had an average of one job offer per slightly over three interviews, which is a hard goal for any staffing firm to accomplish. Even with a competition for talent, we are generating viable candidates with a higher number of interviews. In today’s market it takes 4.5 times as many contacts to generate those 3 to 4 interviews.

The raging war for talent is also visible in how companies began offering salary hikes, bonuses, and hybrid working options over the last five years. We provide suggestions to our clients on handling this challenge.

We educate our clients on developing an attitude that helps them attract talent. They are taught how to convince candidates about their worth, rather than relying solely on an interview process. Clients are also educated about market conditions and how to adapt to them. Altogether, this helped us increase the number of offer acceptances.

At the Epitome of Achievements

We have won multiple awards and recognitions, including Kansas City’s Small Business of the Year, five times, the National Blue Chip Award, also called the National Small Business of the Year, and Ingram’s Magazine’s Top 100 Fastest Companies in Kansas City, three times.

These achievements have motivated us to give back to the community and participate in its well-being. As a part of this, we have had internal individuals ensure that the company is active and engaged in non-profit activities.

An Equal Benefit to Candidates

Companies are our primary clients, but we also offer tremendous benefits to job seekers.

We have a larger database of employers than any other recruiting firm due to our years of experience in the field.

Our transparency in providing every detail about a company also benefits candidates. We do not aim at persuading someone into a job. Rather, we strive to meet the candidate’s career objectives and place them in a job where they can be happy in the long term that makes them productive. Our contractors’ high job conversion rates validate this.

Disclosing details, including the company’s work environment, lets candidates identify if it is a good match or check if they fit in with the company’s work culture. Honest communication has helped us eliminate a lot of risks.

Our value-driven mindset and collaborative approach over a hardcore sales approach have significantly influenced strong relationships

Contributing Human Assets to Supplement Organizational Growth

Placing a number of productive employees who contributed to the organization’s growth has gained us a number of long-term customer relationships.

We assisted a company specializing in the sales and manufacturing of dust collection and air pollution control equipment. It was worth $5 million when we collaborated with them. The more than 40 employees we placed over the years constitute many of their executive team. With their vital role in building the company, it grew to $200 million in value with over 800 employees.

In another instance, we provided a design and manufacturing company for railroad control and communication systems, with a president, five assistant vice presidents, six directors, and over 25 engineers. Within 12 years, the company grew from $58 million to $330 million.

Although these companies were sold to GE, we are confident to say that we have been instrumental in the growth of both of these companies. The clients have also recognized and appreciated us for how the candidates we placed have played a crucial role in driving them toward success.

Austin Nichols Technical Search is an example of how honesty and strong customer relationships can help a business reach people’s hearts.