FARGO — David Dietz, president and CEO of Preference Employment Solutions, admits the last five years have brought a lot of change to his business, but he wouldn't want it any other way.
Dietz said the business recently made large investments in technology and built a new headquarters at 2605 42nd St. S. in Fargo. But perhaps the biggest change, and why the others were possible, is the fact that Preference has adopted an employee stock ownership plan.
"Instead of just training people how to do a job, you're teaching them the business," he said. "You're teaching them how what we do impacts customers and how what we do makes a profit."
It has paid off for Preference employees and its clients, Dietz said. Employees earn a vested interest in the business, which he said has more than doubled the average employee tenure. That, in turn, has provided increased expertise which benefits employers and job candidates.
The area's workforce shortage, which Dietz calls a "double-edged sword," has also contributed to the need for change.
"Demand is good. That's good, right?" Dietz said. "It can also create challenges because of the supply constraint. Recruiting and staffing firms like Preference need to work harder. Our costs go up. We have to work harder to attract and recruit that talent."
The solution is what Dietz refers to as "The Preference Way."
"What we have, in particular the last couple of years have really mastered well, is blending robust technology with a high level of human element in our screening process," he said. "It's the work we do every day of not only attracting talent, recruiting people to add to our talent network, but everything in between."
Dietz said the company has made significant investments in powerful databases designed to match skills and experience to open jobs.
But what contributes even more to the success of Preference has been its personal relationships.
"One of our core values is to serve people through a relationship. What that means is we really slow down and take the time to get to know jobseekers really, really well," he said. "And if we understand our client’s business needs really well: What kind of people are going to be successful in that organization? What kind of skills would they need? But more than that, we learn the culture, personality fit. We're not just matching job descriptions to resumes. That’s not what we do."
'Kitchen table story'
Preference Employment Solutions was founded by David Dietz's parents, Larry and Candice Dietz, in 1987.
"We’re your classic, kitchen table story," David said. "My parents Larry and Candice founded the business around their kitchen table."
Larry previously worked as the CFO of a large trucking firm, and Candice worked as a recruiter for an employment agency no longer in business.
"She wanted to start up her own company with a team-based business model. It’s interesting that 31 years later we’re more that than ever," David said.
The business recently moved into its new 15,800-square-foot headquarters in south Fargo. It comes with work spaces individually designed to suit how each division of the company works best together. Divisions include: health care; professional; administrative; industrial; and advisory, a new service launched to help employers attract, hire and retain talent.
Becky Swoboda, a project manager for Preference, assisted David in providing architects with input on the design of the new building. Features include a large conference room; an improved drug-testing facility; additional spaces for clients and candidates to use for interviews, training and workshops; and what she calls "phone booth rooms" that Preference employees can use for "heads-down work for maybe an hour or to hammer out some phone calls."
Most importantly, the new headquarters was built with room to grow.
"We were very intentional in making sure we built the building bigger than we need today. We have four or five divisions, if you will, and we plan on them growing plus adding more services for customers," Dietz said.