CHARLES BERNARD & ASSOCIATES INC. (old web site)
CHARLES BERNARD EXECUTIVE SEARCH SERVICES
Xukor Inc., a pre-employment screening & referencing company
Employeer’s Mutual of Georgia Inc., retail employment database firm
Civil Recovery Inc., a legal assistance company to handle litigation
concerning thefts of dismissed employees of merchandise
After the collapse of W.T. Grant and all of their stores nationwide, my Rep Agency, Courtois & Gilbert Inc., sustained a severe cash shortage which forced me to change courses to pursue another way to make a living besides trying to figure out what the next hottest trend would be. It was time to stop selling merchandise and get into a business where I could capitalize on my knowledge and experience in the corporate world.
In late 1976 I was forced to dissolve my Rep Agency, and declare a personal bankruptcy. My overhead and travel expenses were exceeding my income. So, I took the worst step in my business life, bankruptcy. Now what? I had to figure out a new way to make a living. I tried more schemes than you can imagine, and after about a year of hit and miss odd selling jobs, I gave in and went to work for a temporary agency in the low end of the temporary employment business. For about a year I worked for Wade & Associates in Atlanta, GA. After a couple of months of participating in the temporary agency business, I told the owner we needed to do something that made real money because what we were doing was not good for any of our bank accounts.
What might that be? Well, I found out that executive search paid 30% of the annual income of the person placed. It could be done on a contingency basis, or on a contract basis. The secure way, contract, took the development of a reputation before one could demand a typical payment schedule: One-third of the fee upfront, one-third of the fee after 60 days, and the final one-third upon completion of the search.
So, I researched and found out that the general economy and demand for employment was most stable in food industry. People always have to eat, and the supply and demand curve would always be stable without large variables. After further research I decided the most demand for specialized skills was in sales and management. There were three of us in the agency that were interested in my idea; so, I divided the food group into three parts: Frozen, non-frozen, and institutional. I chugged along with the agency until I got into a conflict with the owner, and he fired me Thanksgiving week.
He refused to pay me my commissions due me, and after a great deal of back and forth I got the money that I was owed by threatening to report his actions to the client companies I had been dealing with…the strategy worked and I got what was owed immediately.
I began Charles Bernard & Associates in my apartment on a shoe string, closing a sale Christmas week, and I had a start. A week after that I received a call from a man named Robert Fuerst, the former CEO and founder of Scripto Pen. He told me that he had just sold the company, and that he was interested in starting an executive search company.
We made a 51/49 deal and he put up 25K to start a company which I had already named and started, Omega Search. We were immediately successful, but I was not happy being a soldier in general Fuerst’s army. I spent 18 months with Mr. Fuerst and told him adios; it was all his. I walked away to begin Charles Bernard & Associates. As soon as I was free of any entanglements and pending sales I started operating as a one man band.I think I incorporated the company in GA in 1981. I began with 2 recruiters and a secretary.
Initially I shared an office with Richard Orlesky that I worked with at Wade and Associates in the Roswell area; but he turned out to be too greedy, and he was jealous of my success; so, I rented an office two miles from my home in Decatur and became a tenant there until 2003 when I sold the company to a former Sheriff from Tennessee in 2002. I was close to retirement and had been training my son, Chuck, but he didn’t have the sales skills to continue the business, the sale was the only option if I wanted to retire.
My first four years I focused on executive search. After I had developed a solid track record, I began “retained search only” shortly after I moved in to my new office. This more made the cash flow much more predictable. To mix contingency and retained search in the same company is not a workable idea, so I converted to Retained Search only.
I had three full time AE’s for search until 1984 when I started a pre-employment referencing company, named Xukor. This was necessary because my search business now required that I have an uninterested 3rd party checking out the executives we were placing, and I didn’t want any slip ups with my search clients.
The Xukor business grew rapidly, and I was able to fuel its growth with the search revenue that I generated. In no time we were a million dollar corporation, and that led to two more spin-offs. One a data base of people let-go from their employers, which we called: Employment Mutual Inc., and the final piece of the puzzle was a Civil Recovery Corporation which came from the retailers that used the Employers Mutual’s services. We helped the retailers follow-up on the recovery agreements signed when an employee was caught stealing and agreed to pay the theft back to the employer.
This picture above depicts the XUKOR theme. “Shadow or Substance” A resume was the Shadow ; our reports were the Substance…This was the Xukor story!
There were many ups and downs which involved employees who came and went, and those that I had to fire as well. Most of the turn-over came from people who tried to steal my clients, and this is a systemic problem when your people think they are entitled to a bigger share of the pie.
I chose not to try and build a bigger company, and this attitude gradually caused us to get smaller. I was ready to retire but I had not trained someone to be my replacement; so, my only solution was to sell, which I did.
The Down and Dirty Version