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Rochester Top 100: Firm undergoes transformation in half-decade

Rochester Business Journal
April 18, 2014

Employee Relations Associates Inc. was founded 29 years ago, but as far as Thomas Ioele is concerned, it might as well be 5 years old.

In those five years, the Pittsford-based employee services company has greatly expanded its services. Those offerings include human resources consulting, career transition services, executive and professional search assistance, leadership development, recruitment process outsourcing and staffing.

After the increase in services, the company has begun a geographical expansion with the acquisition of the bank staffing division of Midwest Staffing Group in Des Moines, Iowa.

“Like any organization that is trying to be successful or even just survive in this market, we’re constantly looking at better ways to do business and offer products and services that move us forward,” said Ioele, president and CEO.

The acquisition, made earlier this year, has been a great success to date and has the company looking at more growth.

“That acquisition has really helped us prove our model for possible expansion,” Ioele said. “We built a deep partnership with the company, we really liked them and they served our clients well.

“We actually set up the plans to acquire them long before we did the deal, and it provided the strategy so when they were ready to go forward, we were ready too.”

The company’s foothold in Des Moines stretches back to 2003, when ER Associates began serving clients there. The partner affiliation with Midwest Staffing Group started in 2009, and the acquisition is expected to add some $10 million in annual revenue for ER Associates.

The local company now has similar arrangements with other companies, and after about a year of experience with the Des Moines acquisition, it may begin moving forward on similar acquisitions, Ioele said.

The future acquisitions could focus on other areas with growth potential, he said. Des Moines was identified because of strong employment growth.

Ioele has said he sees the same potential in other markets where ER Associates has already started the groundwork to acquire new partners. The company, which has 25 employees in the Rochester area, also has field offices in places such as Dallas and Phoenix.

ER Associates itself has grown at a strong clip, including a roughly 65 percent revenue increase in the past year and three consecutive years of growth in the neighborhood of 27 percent before that.

Ioele sees more growth ahead, though more because of physical expansion than from new services.

“I don’t see us adding any more products or services, but in doing what we do really well, honing and building the client base,” he said. “We’re ensuring that the model for our first acquisition is tried and true, and the first three months looks great so far. At the end of the year, when we know for sure that it’s worked, we do have several other agreements in place to do exactly what we’ve done.”

Ioele credits much of the company’s growth to its leadership team, which includes Jill Knittel, chief operating officer, and Jeanie Burgen, vice president of staffing solutions.

“They have been great as we’ve really reinvented ourselves in the last five years,” Ioele said.

As it prepares for additional expansion outside the area, ER Associates also has been working internally, coming up with leadership succession plans to ensure growth will continue beyond the careers of current executives. Ioele also expects the company’s employee base to grow.

“The leadership is looking to build the company so it is successful for years to come,” he said.

The Rochester Top 100 program is presented by the Rochester Business Alliance Inc. and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. This year’s Rochester Top 100 event will be held Nov. 5. For more information, go to

Employee Relations Associates Inc.
A professional services company providing career transition, search, human resources consulting, leadership development, recruiting, staffing and other services.
Founded: 1985
Top executive: Thomas Ioele,
president and CEO
Employees: 25 in Rochester
2013 ranking: 10
Location: Pittsford

4/18/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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