ARIZONA, March 15, 2016 – In an industry where family-owned companies typically end up selling to large national employment services, neither the thought nor temptation to sell the executive-search firm his parents started in 1978 has crossed Govig & Associates president and CEO Todd Govig’s mind.
In fact, when someone once asked him what his professional exit strategy was, Govig didn’t hesitate and responded with a single word.
“I said, ‘death,’” recalled Govig, in a tone that indicates belief that is truly his only plan. “We’re not going public, not going to sell. We still think there’s a place for businesses to be owned in the community in which they operate.”
This resolution has created a feeling of stability among employees, Govig said. Half the staff has been with the Scottsdale firm for five years or more. Some employees have been there for 37 of the company’s 38 years.
Govig joined the family business full-time in 1987. In the early 1990s, he transitioned into the CEO position. In 1993, he started to focus on growing the firm. Since then, Govig said the firm has averaged 13 percent growth each year.
The continuity has been key to the firm’s survival. Govig is close with his parents, Jan and Dick Govig, who are still involved with the business. Father and son have golfed together for years and the tradition is the source of lighthearted banter about Govig’s job security.
“We joke that as long as I don’t beat my dad at golf, I’ve got a job,” Govig said. “I’m not that good, so…”
Govig remembers the firm’s more serious early days, after his parents moved from Iowa to be first-time business owners in a city neither knew. Govig recalls their stories about how tough it was to start a new business and eating dinner at happy hour at restaurants that offered all-you-can-eat options with the purchase of a drink.
“That was the only choice,” said Govig. “There were times when they were down to the last couple thousand dollars… when they barely made payroll.”
This, as well as the future of his employees and clients, lies at the heart of Govig’s exit strategy, or lack thereof.
“It’s important to remember the history. I’m blessed to have an environment with people with the kind of tenure they have. I hope they can retire financially secure and independent,” he said.
Govig’s plan for the future includes adjusting to marketplace changes. Embracing technology and giving his team the best tools and training to use them efficiently is among of them. When Govig started, he was using rotary phones.
“My job is to create the next (leadership) tier… a succession plan for people to run the business after me. I have an obligation to do that,” he said.
Over the last eight years, Govig has worked on company culture, where decisions are made from the bottom up rather than top down. It’s created a fun team environment that carries over to client service.
Since 2001, Mike McCormack, vice president of human resources for Shea Homes Active Lifestyle Communities, has worked with Govig & Associates, which is the exclusive recruiting source for new team members. Each year, Govig is responsible for an average of about two-dozen placements with McCormack.
McCormack reaches out to Govig when he needs to fill a position and if the firm comes across an ideal candidate for Shea, someone will reach out to McCormack. Govig representatives will fly to meet hiring managers in other states to better understand what they need.
“They have taken the time to get to know our company at a very detailed level. And the better you know your client, the better you’re going to be at finding the right match,” said McCormack, who is based in Scottsdale. “They find that great candidate that has the skill set and the more intangible, cultural-fit elements. Not all firms will take the time and put in financial resources to do that.”
Prior to joining the firm, Govig, who has a degree in business administration from Colorado College, was in a general management role at a hospital supply company in Los Angeles. He took his parents out to dinner on their 25th wedding anniversary and a conversation spontaneously started about Govig wanting to run his own a business someday. Thirty minutes later, an agreement that would result in Govig succeeding his father was reached.
Jan and Dick purchased their firm as a franchise. Ten years ago, Govig & Associates underwent a rebranding and operates its own.
The opportunity to radically change people’s lives is what Govig finds rewarding. He’s got hundreds of letters and notes from appreciative clients.
He talked about a woman whose husband abruptly left her and their baby for another woman and took their car and emptied their bank account in the middle of the night. Govig was able to get her an interview with a company that would hire her, paid for her relocation and gave her a starting bonus to get back on her feet.
She was highly qualified, yet her predicament left her frazzled, stressed and, as Govig recalled, a seemingly undesirable candidate. After she got the job, she thanked Govig for getting her interview-ready, which allowed her to seal the deal.
“When we prepped her, we had to do some tough love,” Govig said. “And, she went in there and knocked them dead.”
He has similar internal stories. A 15-year Govig employee is a former nursing home administrator who was growing weary under the job’s emotional stress and long hours. Now, he enjoys going to work and has more time to spend with his family.
“People don’t change because of money. They change because there’s something not satisfactory where they’re at and they’re finding satisfaction where they go,” Govig said. “That’s what our people do every day. You get to do that… how can you not be excited to go to work?”
Govig & Associates has been in business for forty years and employs over 60 executive search professionals. The average tenure amongst our staff is 8 years, which is unheard of in the recruiting industry. Our clients view us as an investment in their business and we are continually striving to develop strong connections in the marketplace in order to identify top talent. Govig combines high-quality performance with small business values and culture.
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