NAPBS 2008 Annual Conference

NAPBS 2008 Annual Conference New Orleans, Louisiana April 2008


The attendance at the conference grew by 13% over last year to a whopping 689 attendees, with over 100 first timers. The quality, content and organization of this year’s conference were way beyond what I called last year as “Another bang up year for NAPBS and our industry.” There was so much going on it could have easily stretched into another full day.

The feedback from the 62 fellow exhibitors was very positive although they and the attendees would really have liked even more face to face time to just network, talk, meet and greet. This conference is obviously a great opportunity for the industry to meet with potential suppliers and do business.

The conference committee, headed by Mike Pachata and Don Owens did an outstanding job of really raising the bar. When I had my background screening business we did up to 62 trade shows a year, so I know the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to trade shows. This one was very, very good. Other very active Conference Committee members include Caryl McMains (ClearStar), Perry Morgan (NBD), Tim Taggert; Scott Vanek (SJV), Vince Brodt (SJV); Marcia Sheehy and Sheena from US Homeland Investigations and, of course our own, Cindy Sullivan (Berg Consulting Group). Thanks to all.

There were three very good keynote speakers, Jeff Hargett from Ritz Carton did the opening, during a nicesit down breakfast, Gino Wickman of EOS Worldwide at one of the lunch sessions, and Ridgely Goldboroughfor the closing session. All were well attended, interesting, educational and well received.

There was much official and informal discussion on accreditation. Seems one concern is creating a process so as to avoid litigation attorneys from attacking the NAPBS or its members for not including certain criteria in the accreditation or not measuring/inspecting properly. The key is to set standards, become accredited against those standards, make it affordable, yet effective, and bearable to take away an accreditation, all without creating liability for the organization. The outgoing chair, Art Cohen, thinks we can work past this and the incoming chair, Larry Lambeth, feels strongly that we need to find a way. So, it looks like 2008 may be the year.

Art Cohen reported that NAPBS is working diligently to align with other related associations and organizations to build our power base when we need to put our position before the lawmakers. These include SHRM, ASIS,CDIA, NASA, NCRA.

They are also looking to create a grievance protocol when a member is found to not be in compliance with good practices. The education sessions held monthly via webex have been quite successful with over 100attendees per session and will continue.

One thoughtful individual discussed how they were attempting to get state law changed that would prevent a TALX type service. His reasoning was that it is wrong to let previous employers use this type service since this only gives dates of employment and compensation data and reports nothing that would alert a future employer about the dangers of hiring someone whose actions at the previous employer might be critical information (e.g. violent act, theft, etc.). Interesting viewpoint.

I heard several comments about so many background-screening companies getting lots of calls from people who are asking them if they want to sell their company. This is exciting, but take care. First, sometimes they are just looking for competitive information, other times they just want to see what kind of rumors they can start about your company being for sale in an attempt to weaken your position with your clients. Take extra care when you receive these calls. Work through someone whose business it is to handle these things.*

Industry Trends:

  • KPMG gave a report on the decreasing number of acquisitions in our industry. Of course, their stats are based on publicly announced deals. Berg Consulting Group had a record number of intermediary deals in 2007, so our experience runs counter to this, but most of our deals are not the ChoicePointsor TALX or Accurint size deals. We try to stay under the radar and just make buyers and sellers happy in the $200,000 to $75,000,000 range.
  • We see the valuations of companies holding up. Nothing like the 14 times ebitda that ChoicePoint got when it sold, but still much better than most industries. How long this will last with the economy slowing and the potential for tax increases in 2009 (capital gains, Social Security and Medicare) is anyone’s guess, but so far so good.
  • KPMG also quoted Goldman Sachs as forecasting 6.2% unemployment rate by the 4th quarter of 2008.That is up from 5.1% today. With job creation dropping and unemployment rate up, this means less churn and churn generates volume for our industry. So what will happen to your volume if sales drop20% when the unemployment rate increases 22%? *
  • And 38% of large companies and 24% of medium companies have often had to lower their price to win or maintain business. This will eat into your margins and profits so you need to learn to become more lean using technology and by lowering your data acquisitions costs. *
  • In the annual survey of our industry the rates of growth forecast each year continue to drop. For medium size companies, only 40% forecast growth of over 25%, down from 75% the year before. The macroeconomics of our economy will impact your company in 2008!

There were 60 companies exhibiting, including seven exhibiting their background-checking software for CRAs. This means this is still fertile ground because there are still companies out there with no software and companies that need more robust or lower cost systems. *


  • The reception on Sunday night was super. Food, open bar, exhibitors, networking, information exchange, old and new friends, hugs and handshakes.
  • Monday night was a great Texas Hold ‘em poker game with a $1600 first prize. Started at 8pm andwent til after 12:30 (this is after my bedtime).
  • Tuesday night was a blowout at The House of Blues with a phenomenal band (Deacon John and the Ivories) that really rocked the place. All 500-600 people there had a really good time with and open bar, great food, open bar, dancing, open bar and networking and an open bar.
  • Of course, in New Orleans, there is something to do 24/7 which many people took advantage of by coming in a day or two early and seeing the sights.

People Stuff:

  • Dawn Staderwick, after 17 years with BIS has moved to Applicant Insight.
  • She will direct their activities to increase sales.
  • Dean Carras moved from Rapid Court to Innovative Enterprises.
  • Kim Ross, former co-chair of the Membership committee was memorialized by NAPBS. She died this past winter from pancreatic cancer.
  • Fred Giles and Katy Clark have moved from Wackenhut to National Diagnostics to head up their efforts in background checks.
  • Todd Sholberg moved from Florida Drug Screening to ClearStar.
  • Zuni and Terry Corkerton are now grandparents. Being a grandparent is the best!!
  • Tracy Couts has moved from OPENonline to Advanced Background Check.
  • Keith Maguiar, formerly InfoMart is now with Edge Information Management.
  • Barry Nadell retired from Kroll and is now doing expert witness work.
  • Mark Owens, of Owens Online is engaged to a lady he met in the Philippines.
  • Terry Corley has moved on from Global Screening Solutions to his own company, International Screening Solutions.

Company News:

  • Intelius has filed for an IPO.
  • Kroll’s parent, Marsh McLennan was said by one analyst to be unhappy with Kroll’s performance. Kroll has many, many parts to it’s business, including it’s background screening; so don’t jump to any conclusions. [update 4/2308: Kroll- BA says rumors have no basis in fact. They did recently move the Bankruptcy Consulting out of Kroll into MMC]
  • The word was also that the Workplace Solutions portion of ChoicePoint (soon to be acquired by Reed-Elsevier) was also under scrutiny by the new owner.


  • ATS. I have been preaching for the past three years about ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems). Sonow we saw a statistic that 23% of background checking companies have their own ATS and 23%are integrated with an ATS. 53% said they had no ATS. If you have not looked into this, call me today for a crass commercial message.
  • e-verify and I-9s. Rock and Roll! But, will the Feds find the funding to keep these going?
  • International. More and more companies are doing international searches. And, there were several attendees from English speaking countries.

Conference Presentations Included:

  • County Screening Essentials
  • E-Signatures
  • Confirming Identities
  • History of NAPBS
  • Global Screening Trends
  • Third Party Verifications Providers
  • Ethical Responsibilities for the Background Screener
  • Tenant Screening
  • Data Privacy
  • Data Protection Requirements of the FCRA
  • Online Marketing
  • FCRA Basics
  • Criminal Researcher Provider Guidelines
  • 50 State Compliance
  • Drug Testing
  • Data Redaction
  • Top HR needs
  • Mock Trial
  • The Art of Reference Checking
  • Dealing with Disputes

Sessions will be posted on the NAPBS website.

Industry Sales Volume:

Most everyone reported that sales are up in Q1 over 2007. But, people also said that based on the same customer base as 2007, Q1 sales were down for that same customer base; admitted decreases ranged from 5% to15%. Macroeconomics is having an impact on our industry, yet the mood was still very upbeat.

Thank you!

Everyone in this industry should send a personal thank you to the people who spend hundreds of hours a year to make this organization work so darn well. Thank you all. You should be proud of your efforts and accomplishments.

Next year will be in St. Louis

*Commercial message: Call Berg Consulting Group for service in this area.

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