John Bernatovicz

Five Years of Thank You’s

willory-5th-anniversary-2Earlier this month, we celebrated our fifth anniversary with an awesome gathering of clients, consultants, candidates, friends, and of course the Willory team. We have gotten together each year since our founding as a time to celebrate new opportunities, successful client partnerships, and our consultants’ accomplishments.

At this year’s event, my team surprised me with a video congratulating me for all that Willory has accomplished. It was touching, and I may have gotten a little dust in my eyes. But while it was playing, it got me thinking… I am getting all the credit, but it isn’t about me. Willory has not gone from a one-person company to the firm we are today all because of me. We’ve been able to accomplish so much in such a short time because of our great people who work tirelessly for our clients, consultants and candidates. Over the past few months alone, we have received NorthCoast 99, Cascade Growth, and Crain’s Fast 52 Growing Company recognition. Everyone on the team has demonstrated amazing commitment and contributed to our success – so allow me to turn the tables and recognize the team.

Bob Haas is Willory’s employee #1. He joined us (without him “us” would be “me” – sounds like a Bob Dylan lyric) as an intern shortly after graduating from Kent State (my alma mater, clearly a biased hire). To see him grow into the professional recruiter and salesman that he is today has been a thrill. Just like Willory, Bob continues to grow as he got married to Natasha earlier this year. Congrats!

Jamie Rugh joined later in our first full year fresh out of Ohio State to help with marketing, sales, recruiting, and account management. Or better said, almost everything. Jamie’s willingness to get better every day and challenge herself and her team members has not gone unnoticed as the Willory team voted her one of our 2014 Leader Award winners for exemplary leadership. Just recently, she purchased her first home – which is amazing!

With Bob and Jamie on board, we continued to grow with the addition of several key employees including Laura Maike. Her can-do attitude is not only infectious to the team, but also a major reason we ask her to contribute to the firm in a variety of ways on numerous projects. No matter what, we always receive her best work. Laura and her husband anxiously await their second child who is due in early 2016.

It would be a bad joke to simply say I love Leah Duplaga like a sister as she is, in fact, my sister-in-law. It’s no small task to keep my busy calendar straight – not only does she help keep me organized, but Leah also ensures all of us are where we need to be. While being an amazing mom and wife, Leah recently completed her first every half-marathon. Way to go!

Angie Williams is charged with the “fun” task of being HR for an HR company – because none of us would ever chime in with opinions ;). Angie made the THRD, Inc. transaction happen with her due diligence with the employees who transitioned to Willory. Besides being an awesome HR professional, she is leading a significant internal project that will transform our firm for years to come. Angie was also a winner of our Willory Leader Award. She is super mom and has two beautiful daughters and a loving husband.

And speaking of fun… Ann Montgomery carries the heavy mantle of overseeing payroll for a payroll-staffing firm. Ann is the sweetest person you will meet. Plus, she makes me look good either by being proactive or filling a gap I may have missed. On top of all of this, Ann has delivered 100% on time and accurate payroll process and vendor payments. Ann and her husband are filled with joy as their family is multiplying with new grandchildren!

Lisa (Dean) Mamula became a Willory team member through acquisition of the staffing division of The Human Resource Department, Inc. in 2013. Simply put, we would never have completed the purchase if Lisa wasn’t part of the package. From day one, she fit in better than I could ever have hoped. On top of that, Lisa was Willory’s top producer in 2014 as well as a Leader Award recipient. She recently shipped off her oldest daughter to college (Bowling Green) who stays in touch with mom almost every day!

In 2014, we found the perfect leader to expand Willory’s consulting practice in the form of Katherine Gregorski. Furthering our consulting practice is no small task and her guidance and like-minded vision is seeing this practice flourish. Katherine just bought her dream home on Lake Erie – ah, the beauty of the “home office.”

Over the last couple years, I love attending and speaking at Disrupt HR CLE. One of the best outcomes of my CLE 2.0 presentation was meeting Christine Peters the moment I stepped of the stage. She made an incredible first impression. Christine has successfully managed various projects including the launch of an organization-wide CRM/ATS. Her and her husband have two adorable daughters and were recently recognized for their home renovation project.

Bridgette Klein just celebrated her one-year anniversary with Willory. In that time, she has helped take our marketing department to the next level. Bridgette’s ability to dedicate her passion to an organization that she believes in has been amazing. Every aspect of our marketing department is better because of her involvement. Bridgette and her husband have the cutest little daughter (Keely) and just moved into a new home on the Eastside of Cleveland.

And speaking of marketing, Doug Adams likes to say he is employee #1.5 since he has been a part-time marketing consultant with me since very early on. He is a visionary, sounding board, and friend. Our brand is where it is today because of Doug’s care and passion for Willory. Sad to say, we don’t get to see him as often as he moved from Northeast Ohio to Colorado in search of either sunshine or in an effort to flee humidity… or both.

Last but certainly not least, my wife Emily, as without her Willory would not exist. She has supported and trusted me from day one – in spite of the fact that it was my brilliant idea to start this business in the worst economic conditions in decades. I think it helped that we named the firm after our two kids, Will and Mallory. Love her for trusting me!

I would like to also thank Todd Lancaster, Matt Glovna, Dave Vance, Larry Pliskin, Bill Krueger, and Ed Zak – all of whom have been great vendor partners.

A special thanks to all of our current and prior consultants and placements – you make all of us at Willory look good to our clients through your great work.

Finally, my most sincere thank you to our customers. Every day you pay us the greatest compliment by trusting us with your business. It is our distinct pleasure to partner with each and every client.

Here’s to five, ten, and more great years!

 

 

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2 Responses to “Five Years of Thank You’s”

  1. Gary Szelagowski says:

    CONGRATULATIONS, John AND TEAM, which is clearly the point of this piece! It’s clearly a fabulous group, poised to build upon the wealth of success noted here!

  2. Sherry Duncan says:

    Congratulations John. I did not know you had so many fabulous employees and that it has been so many years since you started. Wishes for your continued success. I will look you up again when I retire in about 1 year. My son is finishing college in one year and he will graduate and hopefully move to California. I will retire (probably) and go with him or stay in Ohio (am I crazy?). Hope to continue to see you at OCPP. You are awesome!


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