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EMPLOYMENT & EMPLOYEE BENEFITS
WEEK OF JANUARY 1 - 7, 1999           PAGES 21 - 28
Flexibility of family business allows success on all fronts

By Walker C. Wooding, Jr.
Houston Business Journal


    Amid stacks of resumes and constantly ringing phones, Gladney, Will and Dick Darroh have found a way to meet the challenges of running a successful personnel consulting business while also answering the demands of family and community involvement.
    The three brothers are partners in Piper-Morgan Associates Personnel Consultants. Will Darroh earned HAAPC's Outstanding Contribution to the Community Award and Gladney B. Darroh was named HAAPC's Top Producer for 1997 in the Technical/Professional Division - the first time the association has given its top awards to brothers. Gladney also won Top Producer for 1997 in the Technical/Professional Division statewide through TAPC.

    The key to their success, the Darroh brothers say, is flexibility."We learned a long time ago that you can agree to disagree," says Will. "The partners have to be flexible in a lot of ways for our business and family life to flourish."
    The Darroh brothers say that, for them, success isn't simply about building an extensive client list.It's all about building relationships - both in and out of the office. Their family-owned business has provided them with the flexibility to focus on both areas.
    Thus, when Gladney, single father of two, has to take time from work to be the best dad he can be, no questions are asked.
    "Throughout our history as a business, we've never lost sight of the responsibilities that we feel very strongly about - strong commitment to family and community - perspectives that we also apply to our business," says Gladney. " We want to keep the three things in balance togeather."
    After a divorce and ensuing court battles in the late 1980's, Gladney won full custody of his two young children - daughter Ashley, now an all honors freshman at Memorial High School, and Steven, a straight-A seventh grader at Memorial Middle School.
    The support of his brothers allowed him to devote his energies to his young children when they needed him most, he says. And, recently, with the children older, he was able to take advantage of the booming personnel placement industry and achieve top producer status.
    "I'm very fortunate to have bright and healthy kids who understand that their dad can't always be there all the time," he says."Its the nature of a single-parent household."
    Keeping the firm's focus on community service alive is the Darroh brothers' mother, Peggy Darroh. Several years ago the brothers invited their mom to join them as the company's full-time ambassador to the community.She represents the corporation through devoting 100% of her time to various charities and was honored as Museum of Fine Arts Volunteeer of the year in 1997.
    Will, who received his HAAPC award for his many personal and corporate contributions to the community, says the flexibility of the family business has allowed his community service, as well as permitting him time with his son, Matthew, a sophomore at the University of Texas, and daughter, Rebekah, a senior at Stratford High School.
    "Some dads have to travel a lot and may only spend about 50 percent of the year with their families," says Will. "We've been fortunate that our business doesn't require that.

PIPER-MORGAN
     What their business has required is a certain amount of tenacity. The company, founded in 1977, bears the last names of a Scotsman and Englishman Gladney met some 30 years ago in a mining town in Nicaragua. The names, Gladney thought, had a nice ring.

       

 

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    Starting out, Gladney, who had experience in the technical career training field, and Will, worked out of a small space in an office on temporary loan by their CPA. Dick joined them six months later.
    It was in this office that the firm's first client was served. When Gladney got to their borrowed office on opening day, a young woman was working away at the typewriter. He thought she was the CPA's secretary.In fact, she was the secretary's sister, using the typewriter to work on a resume. She became the firm's first candidate.
    Having no established client list, Gladney worked the telephone directory, making cold-calls to prospects to introduce the firm. Down to the letter "P" he made a call to Pennzoil Co. that resulted in a job for the yound woman and eventually, other work with Pennzoil.
    The company has gone on to represent many Fortune 500 companies with both domestic and international operations, serving as a professional search firm specializing in meeting the staffing needs of the upstream and downstream energy industries.

ADMINISTRATIVE EXCHANGE
    In 1991, the brothers established an affiliated company, Administrative Exchange Inc. Professional Temporaries, to supply the growing need of its clients for long-term contract employees.
    This is a sector of the business where Dick spends most of his time in while catching some of the overlap of business from the Piper-Morgan side. Like Piper-Morgan, the company has domestic as well as international aspects to it. However, its focus is on project-based work. AEI's services benefit companies with various considerations such as downsizing, recovering, facing uncertain market conditions, and other factors.
    Dick says he understands the benefits of being self-employed and the flexibility factor that it provides. "When one of us takes off, that person isn't earning any money," says Dick."Thats why we make sure that the time taken off is quality time and very meaningful.
    Dick's quality time comes in the way of serving his church as a mentor. Also, like his brothers, spending time with his family, including his son Dorian, a graduate student at the University of North Texas, and daughter, Lisa, a senior at Texas Women's University.
    Although Dick doesn't mind putting in the long hours it takes to serve clients and assist candidates with their respective job searches, he says he cherishes his role as dad even more.
    "Children are an unusual group of people,"says Dick. "As parents, we all have the challenge and responsibility of establishing what is right and what is wrong, and how to make the best decisions. If children have that foundation, if they learn how and why to make the best decisions, then despite the mistakes they will inevitably make, they'll come back to using good judgement and mature into responsible adults.