"The building industry is full of straight-shooters who will tell you what they think," explains Rikka Brandon of Building Gurus. "But that works well for me, that's what I'm like - my style is direct. The diplomat in our company is Erin (Mayer). Brandon has been in recruiting in the building industry for more than seven years. "I got into an executive training program and learned to love Human Resources. I had to recruit 250 positions in four months and found I had a real talent for recruiting."
Rikka then moved on to doing national recruiting for Pella Windows for two years. Discovering she had a passion for the building industry, she decided to strike out on her own, constructing what would become an international recruiting organization from a small basement office. Within just a few years, the company moved into a suite of offices and began hiring additional recruiters. In the five years following its humble beginnings, Building Resources was redesigned into Building Gurus and has closed hundreds of searches.
"The building industry is like no other," said Brandon. "We have a lot of repeat clients and we've survived downturns in the industry and come out stronger. When the market gets light, you're not allowed the luxury of poor decisions, so we apply the lessons learned in the past."
Rikka Brandon and Erin Mayer, now partners in Building Gurus, have dovetailed their broad-spectrum talents and personalities into a cohesive unit. Brandon is the visionary. "I have two things about me that are dangerous," she said. "I live five to ten years in the future and as soon as I'm near a goal, I change it."
Rikka described Erin in one word - reliable. "Erin does exactly what she says she'll do."
Brandon, 31, is surprised she found her niche so early in life, and in such a relatively obscure business. "There are fewer than 15 recruiting firms focused on the building products side," she said. "The building industry is extremely misunderstood and extremely complicated. I deal with intelligent people who are changing the face of the earth. They're sharp, progressive, and are not willing or able to settle for average."
Brandon knows the only way to stay alive in this business is to remain authentic. "We take the time to learn our client's needs. We'll tell it like it is. If we're not the right solution, we'll say it."
With the slowing of the housing market some companies may need to streamline their workforce. But there is a silver lining to this cloud. "This is an awesome time for companies to top grade," advises Brandon. "There are a lot of great people on the market right now. The people we're currently recruiting are A-class."
Brandon uses one word to describe the mission of Building Gurus - passion. "For us, recruiting is like breathing, it's had to believe this is our job. We've built long-standing relationships, have many repeat clients and have clients we'd walk through fire for."
If Rikka Brandon is the kite, Erin is holding the string. She is the steady, detail-oriented, grounded member of the pair. Both will agree that the merging of their personalities is what has kept Building Gurus on top. "Most recruiting companies only last a year or two," said Mayer. "We have a great deal of experience and have recruited in every state in the nation."
Mayer, 32, was also surprised that she took to recruitment so quickly. After selling cars, radio advertising and working as a mortgage banker, she found recruiting for the building industry to be an unbelievable fit. "I have a strong sales background," she said, "but what I'm doing today doesn't feel at all like selling, it's as if I get to do my hobby for a living. It just seems to come so naturally."
Building Gurus has recruited for Fortune 500 companies, such as BASF, Woodgrain Millwork, and Boise Cascade as well as with dealers and distributors of all types of building materials.
Erin's recruiting philosophy is simple - "We can't afford to send junk to our clients," she said. The stats support Mayer's claim - overall they have a 1% percent replacement rate - virtually unheard of in the recruiting industry.
When Rikka hired Erin as her Director of Business Development in 2003, it took an instinctual leap of faith for Mayer to accept the challenge. Starting her first day with only a laptop and telephone, Mayer began making cold calls. "Rikka had three clients at the time," said Mayer. "In our first year together, we earned over 100 clients and a national vender agreement with Pella Windows and Doors."
The two are now partners in Building Gurus. "We started out as Building Resources," said Mayer, "The company was growing and we had to hire additional recruiters, but we ended up with a company that wasn't authentically 'us'. Since our clients are our most valuable asset, we wanted them to work with the best, so we shifted focus and are back to doing what we know, recruiting for today, planning for tomorrow. We are the experts - the Gurus." – less–ZoomInfo