When the irrepressible, irreverent, and highly energetic Heather Manley, now CEO and majority owner of IT staffing firm On-Demand Group, went to her father in 2006 to ask about working for the 12-year-old family firm, she didn't really understand what he did. She just knew she wanted to be around him, and her mother, who worked as office manager for her father.
"They had longstanding client relationships, but they weren't bringing in any new business," explained Manley, to an audience at Startup Grind; an event series and website designed to help educate, inspire, and connect entrepreneurs. "I saw it as a fun and creative opportunity to help turn something stagnant into a lucrative family-owned business. So I kept bugging him."
Heather and her brother Sean got their dad to yes soon after, joining the company in 2006, with the former working in recruiting, and the latter in operations.
Once the brother and sister duo took over, they launched a marketing campaign to help the brand stand out more, began building new relationships with companies who hired IT consultants, and networked tirelessly with prospects, one breakfast, lunch and dinner at a time.
"We also created a list of 15 things we do that nobody else in our space was doing," Heather said proudly." "Either we saw it is a void in the market or our clients were asking for it. I still get goosebumps today thinking about that exciting time when we first took over."
The IT staffing firm's meteoric growth is attributed to "strong relationships with our fantastic clients and constant happy hours."
Although I can't imagine anything or anyone dimming or denting Heather's excitement and enthusiasm, it's undoubtedly more satisfying to see hard work pay off.
On-Demand Group grew 35% in 2010, and by 80% in 2011. They have also more than doubled staff, and tripled the client roster since Heather and Sean took over. She says they "attribute this to strong relationships with our fantastic clients and constant happy hours."
Now providing contract, contract-to-hire and offshore resources, they also updated the office's recruiting technology, and invested every penny of profits back into the company.
And then there's that marketing messaging that continues to help the company stand out in a very commodotized environment. Just check out the introductory paragraph on the home page of the company's website.
What makes us special? Unique? Different? Well, besides our IT consultants' striking good looks and sophisticated style, On-Demand Group (ODG) brings to the table passion, commitment and fun to what we know as the "Rockstar Lifestyle" of IT consulting.
IT Consulting: Heard of it? Yea, yea. There are a lot of companies out there that do IT consulting. What makes us special? Unique? Different? Well, besides our IT consultants' striking good looks and sophisticated style, On-Demand Group (ODG) brings to the table passion, commitment and fun to what we know as the "Rockstar Lifestyle" of IT consulting.
Even Heather Manley's business card, which is rather traditional on the face of it, contains the tagline "Saving the world. One IT consultant at a time."
Though the multi-faceted entrepreneur - who also markets a line of seasonings called Heather's Dirty Goodness, and will soon debut her own brand of bourbon - doesn't take herself seriously, she does take her brand seriously.
"You only have one brand and you have to treat it with the utmost respect and care. We have created a company based on impeccable morals and ethics with an obligation and passion to grow a family-owned business. We spark and nurture our relationships with our customers and consultants, ensuring that they are both long lasting and mutually beneficial."
"You only have one brand and you have to treat it with the utmost respect and care. We have created a company based on impeccable morals and ethics with an obligation and passion to grow a family-owned business."
One way she says the company can stand out and show up differently in the marketplace is through giving back and engaging with the community.
"When I began joining boards and becoming a part of the entrepreneur community particularly, it really energized me and opened my eyes to see what was possible," says the current National Association of Women Business Owners-MN Board President.
Heather is also a member of the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Steering Committee and founder of WEM - Women Executives in Minnesota. "What you give comes back on so many levels and in so many different ways. I really believe that."
Heather Manley also really believes she and her brother Sean can double the size of their company in the next few years. She says human capital will play a significant role in that, because top people are pursuing her and On-Demand Group, instead of the other way around.
She and her brother also believe in the value of culture. Heather says a patio to grill on, shufflepuck throw downs and a sweet 1978 Atari gaming system, are just some of the ways On-Demand Group creates an environment where smiling is good and happy team members are better.
"To be successful today a company has to be competitive, different, have growing added-values and offerings, morals and ethics Mom and Dad would be proud of, and last, but most importantly, a passion for what they do," states Heather with her bright smile and shiny eyes. "On-Demand Group oozes that passion every day. We are always going to be on a journey of self-improvment, to get better as entrepreneurs, business owners and leaders and active and engaged members of the larger community."