SHRM 2010 Annual Conference

SHRM 2010 Annual Conference

San Diego, CA

I spent a few days visiting a majority of the pre-employment screening companies at this year’s SHRM show inSan Diego, CA. I received a lot of feedback from business owners, operations managers, salespeople and marketing directors and, from what I gathered, everyone was very happy to leave 2009 where it should be… in the past.

I spoke with people who actually had smiles on their faces once again and I cannot remember the last time this industry was actually happy. The overwhelming majority of people I spoke with were very positive regarding2010 and everyone was crossing their fingers that business would continue to gain even more momentum through the second half of the year and straight into 2011.

On average I would say that companies claimed their volumes are up 20-30%. Same-store sales are contributing to that percentage, but it seems the reason for this 2010 success, thus far, has come from new business. The question is: Does this represent “new business” from accounts that signed up in 2009 but did no business in 2009 and are finally doing background checks in 2010, or is it new clients actually signed up in 2010?

I think it’s a combination of both. The real question is: Where are these “new customers” coming from?People who never before did background checks? or previous customers of “the big boys” who are dissatisfied? USIS/Hireright/Kroll? First Advantage? Lexis-Nexis/Choicepoint? These companies have undergone significant changes over the past couple of years and how much did this affect customer service thereby driving opportunities to smaller CRAs.

My take on the show was pretty positive. I think SHRM always puts on a great conference.

Now… to get to the numbers. Attendance was up this year. Last year’s New Orleans show had roughly 6,800paid attendees and 2010 saw this climb back to the 2008 level with 11,500. Total attendance, including exhibitors, guests, speakers, etc. was 16,400. It is great to hear people were willing to travel all the way to the West Coast for this show. As far as how many background screening companies exhibited, my count was 31pre-employment screening companies, 2 drug testing companies, 2 assessment companies and 3 related exhibitors.

It would be naïve to think all companies could exhibit at this show, due to the very expensive price tag,however I was surprised some of the larger companies were not there. First Advantage? Acxiom? Intelius? TransUnion? I know people have very different opinions about trade shows, but SHRM is one of the megashows and seems to be in the category of “can’t miss” for the big boys in our industry.

Although I did not get to speak with all the business owners/presidents/CEO’s that were in attendance, the following is a list of who I either saw or heard was there. I apologize in advance if I left anyone off this list. Isn’t it interesting that these are mostly owners? They sure must think this show is important.

o    Rick Kurland- EBI

o    Ray Conrad- GIS

o    Curt Marks- Verifications, Inc.

o    Jason Morris- EmployeescreenIQ

o    Bill Greenblatt- Sterling

o    Bon Idziak- Applicant Insight

o    Joel Goldberg- Aurico

o    Tony D’Orazio- BIG/Certiphi/Truescreen

o    Carlos Lacambra- A-Check

The following tidbits are what I heard during my conversations:

  • Some of the industries that have really stated hiring are the staffing industry, the small business sector,healthcare, international, universities and nuclear.
  • Pre-employment companies are hiring again. One company I spoke with has added nine sales and marketing employees over the past year.
  • Not many new products have hit the market. Yes, I did hear from some companies about their new products, but as a whole it seems like the screening industry wanted to get their feet under them before they start bringing new products to the market.
  • One mid-size company told me they expected to have their best year ever this year. Now that is a great way to rebound from 2009.
  • One business owner felt the up-tick in attendance was a bit misleading. He felt since most companies were on a strict budget last year, companies sent more decision makers to the New Orleans show as opposed to not as many decision makers in San Diego.

Same people, new companies:

  • Tony Cordaro and Jim Hall – NBD
  • Vince Pascarella, Ory Tucker and Katy Britto – USA-Fact

Overall, I was pleased with my time in San Diego on the tradeshow floor. It is always great catching up with colleagues and meeting new people. Based on the show, 2011 could be a pretty good year for the screening industry.