Interview: ZRG Group Director Well-Positioned for the Upturn

August 7, 2009 – Larry Hartmann is managing director of executive search firm ZRG Partners. He is involved in leading the overall growth of the firm globally as well as servicing his select clients in the commercial finance space. Prior to joining ZRG Partners in 2001, Mr. Hartmann spent 17 years successfully founding, building and selling a commercial finance business. From 1984 to 1998, he was a founder and board member of Rockford Industries, Inc. a NASDAQ traded specialty finance company which focused on providing specialized financing programs and sales support for the healthcare and information technology markets. At the time of the sale of the company to American Express in 1999, the company had total assets exceeding $250 million, 200 employees and offices in 18 states. In the following interview, Mr. Hartmann discusses ZRG Group’s performance in the first half of 2009 and what lies ahead for the firm in this tough economy.

What was ZRG Group’s revenue increase/decrease from the first six months of 2008? What do you expect for the full year?

ZRG Group recorded a revenue decline of 35 percent for the first six months of 2009. For the full year we anticipate a 30 percent decrease. We expect gradual improvement with very gradual increase in retained search revenues.

How has the economic climate changed for you since August 2008?

We have witnessed a dramatic slowdown in retained search. We have also seen a shift of revenues to outside the U.S. into Asia Pacific and Latin America as well as to Europe. We’ll see a 50 percent increase in global revenues year over year from 2008, however we experienced a decrease in U.S. revenues and overall.

What industries and regions do you think are showing the best improvement and which are showing the least improvement?

Education has been the strongest sector, while the financial services sector has been the weakest. The Asia Pacific and Latin America have both been regions where we have experienced considerable growth.

For the remainder of 2009 will overall demand for recruiting and human capital services increase, decrease, or remain flat?

For the remainder of the year we expect to see flat to a slight increase in demand. The glut of talent and the use of lower cost options is making less work for retained search firms. Overall, 2009 is a challenging year for retained search firms but if you are right sized in overhead and can adjust fast, there is opportunity to remain profitable and well-positioned for the upturn. It’s all about surviving 2009 with your key talent in place.

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