From Inside Business
Paul Rodriguez was feeling down.
The CEO and founder of the NSC staffing firm in Portsmouth was 23 years old and had just moved back into his mother’s house in Newport News after a business venture had gone sour. He was staying in a single-car garage the family had repurposed into a makeshift bedroom.
Rodriguez founded NSC from that garage on Dec. 3, 2000, with $17,000. Almost two decades later, NSC has grown into a staffing company with almost $200 million in annual revenue and 33 offices across the United States.
Rodriguez said that journey has helped him greatly in creating company values and retaining the best employees.
“I know how our field associates want to be treated because I was one of them,” Rodriguez said.
His parents moved to the United States from Puerto Rico in the late 1960s. He grew up in Hampton Roads and said his mother and father taught him the value of honor, faith and family.
After finishing high school, Rodriguez got his first job in commercial construction working as an electrician’s helper. A few months into that, he accepted a job in sales, even though he wasn’t sure if he would be successful in the position.
“They told me, ‘We see something in you that you may not see in yourself yet,’ ” he said.
The advice paid off, and Rodriguez said he was able to excel at the position and build several relationships with leaders in the area shipbuilding industry.
From there, he partnered with another entrepreneur to start a staffing firm.
That’s when disaster struck. Rodriguez said his partner embezzled every dime from the venture.
It was several months after he had moved back home to plan his next move when his father walked into his room one day and asked if he could start a staffing company on his own, and thus, NSC was born.
By now, NSC has expanded far beyond helping the shipbuilding and marine industries. It has added expertise in manufacturing, light and heavy industrial, driving and logistics and commercial construction.
After years of success, Rodriguez said he made a tough decision in 2016. In order to grow the company further, he recapitalized NSC with the help of private equity firm White Wolf Capital.
“I realized I didn’t have that skill set, and I realized I needed help,” he said about the decision.
Since then, NSC has acquired five companies, including a training organization in Puerto Rico that helps teach careers like welders, pipe fitters and insulators.
Rodriguez said the biggest challenge the company has overcome is being able to attract and retain the highest-quality workers, a feat he said has taken 18 and a half years of hard work to accomplish.
NSC employs around 3,000 field employees — those who go out to construction jobs and shipyard gigs — and around 200 internal workers.
“An ‘A player’ is not at home waiting for a phone call to go to work,” he said. “They are somewhere working. So, one of the challenges we’ve overcome is developing a narrative, developing past performance, to attract and lure in the top-notch talent that we have today.”
From Inside Business
By Trevor Metcalfe
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