“What adversity have you had in your life?” That’s one of the questions that Sheldon Wolitski’s recruiting firm The Select Group, asks all of its recruiting candidates.
Wolitski, formerly from Calgary, AB is the founder and CEO of The Select Group, a full service recruiting firm specializing in the placement of IT and Engineering professionals. He has been recognized by the Triangle Business Journal as one of the regions “Top 40 under 40” named 30th on their Fast 50 list, and chosen as one of the “Best Places to Work”. In addition, they have recently been recognized by Inc 500 as one of the fastest growing privately held companies in the nation.
That success did not come without its share of challenges.
A hockey scholarship brought Wolitski to the University of Huntsville Alabama back in 95′. Thinking that his friends were playing a prank on him, he asked the coach over the phone if they had ice rinks in Alabama. After finding out that the call was legit, he accepted the offer. Prior to that, he played junior hockey in Vernon, AB.
While experiencing a bit of culture shock during his first 2 weeks in the States, an apartment break-in by two men with a knife left him with 65 stitches in his arm. That event, although challenging, brought him and his team together. It also quickly introduced him to “Southern hospitality” by many. With a third of his hockey team being from Canada, they took part in educating their Southern hosts on Hockey 101. His four year experience in Huntsville culminated with a Division II National Championship.
After graduating college, Wolitski began his career working at one of the nation’s largest staffing company in Huntsville, Alabama. An opportunity presented itself for him to open a branch in Raleigh, NC. He commented that “it was a great experience with excellent training and mentoring.” While those experiences were valuable, he felt that there were opportunities to improve the business and fulfilled a long term goal of being an entrepreneur. In conjunction with a strong technology market, The Select Group was born in 1999.
As the company was gaining momentum and building strong relationships, the future of the company came to a crossroads with the tragic event of 9/11 and a downturn in the tech economy. “A few customers went under and there was an industry transition in hiring from permanent placement to contract,” Wolitski stated. On the verge of going broke, he adjusted his model to service more contract business and battled through the challenges.
According to Wolitski, the company has grown because of self motivated, self managed, and self disciplined bright people. He rewards them with a Google type atmosphere that includes flex work, celebration of daily successes, foosball tables, flat screen TV’s and, of course, an indoor hockey net. They entertain both clients and employees at their shared suite at Carolina Hurricane games. While now staffing IT specialists in contract, consulting, and contract-permanent positions in Raleigh, NC, his future plans are to gain more market share in his region and expanding into major tier one markets such as Georgia and DC.
When asked about his things he missed from Canada, Wolitski responded that it included his family, the Hockey culture, Tim Horton’s and the friendliness and of Canadian’s.
Regarding the future, Wolitski stated, “It’s not a question if challenges will happen; it’s a question of when and how you handle them.”