Harry Griendling is the founder and CEO of DoubleStar, a talent acquisition, advisory, and analytics consulting firm. Since 1993, Doublestar has helped hundreds of business attract and retain top talent in industries like healthcare, banking, pharmaceuticals, engineering, and biotechnology. With Harry at the helm, DoubleStar has grown into a leading partner for organizations looking to recruit staff; the company has appeared twice on the Inc 500 list of America’s Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies and six times on Wharton’s Philadelphia 100 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the Philadelphia area. Recognized for his thought leadership in the HR industry, Harry has been honored as one of the inaugural inductees into the Philadelphia Business Hall of Fame.
EDWIN WARFIELD: Tell us about the company and your inspiration for founding it.
HARRY GRIENDLING: The idea for DoubleStar was really to fill a hole that I saw existing in the market back around 1990: Every other department that I worked with inside of my organization had consulting partners. Recruiting was the only function that did not have consulting partners. They had search firms and placement firms and contingent firms, so I thought there was probably a place for a firm that can come in and bring expertise, knowledge, and extra set of hands when you needed it; and that priced the services differently than a simple transaction fee or a placement fee. Thinking about that for a while and talking to people is how we came up with the idea for DoubleStar.
Q. What were some of the early milestones the company reached?
A. Most of the milestones that I remember have to do with hitting certain number of employees or hitting revenue targets. One I do remember that had to do with a client is, we were in business for probably about two years and I still wasn’t sure we had something. We had been successful capturing a few clients and executing some interesting projects, but I still wasn’t sure we had anything. I remember going into a meeting at KPMG, and I thought “this is the test,” because if a consulting firm would hire us as a consulting firm then we probably had something. It was the only time I actually sold the deal in the first meeting and walked out with an agreement to work together. I called all my friends after that, said, “I think I have something here, because one of the world’s best consulting firms just hired us.” It was a blessing for us. We were legitimate.
Q. How does DoubleStar’s recruitment process work?
A. DoubleStar offers a couple of different solutions, but really it comes down to two things. The two things we do are help our clients make hires better, faster, make better selection decisions; and then we also do that work in partnership with our clients. We can bring knowledge and expertise and transfer that knowledge to the client’s team or we can develop a project or a program and execute it in partnership or instead of the client’s team. It depends often on what the client situation is and which of our various services they select.
A lot of companies in our space call themselves an RPO, which stands for Recruitment Process Outsourcing. The problem we have with that is we have never called ourselves an RPO because that’s one thing and many times a company needs something other than that. In addition, RPO is really not a panacea solution. It requires the right partner, the right fit, the right point in time in a company to be able to pull that off.
Outsourcing cleaning the lobby is one problem. Outsourcing hiring talent when you are in the middle of a growth spurt is a very, very different problem, and I would argue a much more sensitive and subtle one. Finding that partner and having the organization be ready for an RPO-style relationship is often not right, and a lot of them, over the years, last a year or two, and then fade and dissolve into the distance because they’re not sustainable as companies change and needs change.