IT companies report more robust hiring
Michael Fischer is somewhat concerned about where the economy is headed, but you wouldn't guess it, given that he just hired five people.
The percentage of area information technology companies that are hiring hit “a high watermark” in the second quarter, according to a survey conducted by the Northeast Ohio Software Association.
Just 18% of the 85 respondents said they are “not hiring” — by far the lowest percentage recorded since NEOSA began regularly conducting the survey four years ago. Rising tide
Among the companies undergoing expansion is Thinsolutions of Lakewood, which over the past 12 months has hired 10 people, including five this summer, said Mr. Fischer, the company's CEO.
The IT services company — which employs 39, including 30 in Northeast Ohio — endured a “scary” 2009, but now enough new business has been coming in to justify expanding, Mr. Fischer said.
Though the economic news that has rattled Wall Street has gotten his attention, Mr. Fischer said he's not all that worried. Not only is he hiring, but so are many of the 13 other IT companies from across the country that he meets with every few months.
“Everybody that I talk to is definitely growing, even if it might be a slower pace,” he said.
The percentage of companies reporting that they are not hiring has declined by 22 percentage points — or more than half — since the third quarter of 2010, when it stood at 40%. That figure fell to 26%, a record low at the time, in the fourth quarter. It hovered in that range before dropping to 18% in the second quarter.
By comparison, 56% of companies reported that they were not hiring during the first quarter of 2009.
Other statistics in the survey backed up the hiring trend, though not every number in the report was positive. For instance, 21% of respondents described their performance in the most recent quarter as “very good.” That figure was lower during the second quarter of 2010, but it has fallen by 9 percentage points over the past two quarters, said Brad Nellis, executive director of NEOSA.
Mr. Nellis said he was shocked by how few companies said they were not hiring, though he does see a lot of anecdotal evidence to support the low number.
“Virtually every tech company is hiring somebody right now,” Mr. Nellis said.
Steve Wiser of Specialized Business Software Inc. in Solon was among the respondents who reported that their companies are expanding.
The business, which sells document management software, custom applications and IT services, has filled five new positions since the start of 2011. It now has 23 employees.
Specialized Business Software started hiring people mainly because of a few big contracts the company won in late 2010, Mr. Wiser said.
“Everything seemed to improve with the economy,” he said.
Same goes for OEConnection LLC, a Richfield company that provides software that allows car and truck dealers to exchange parts online. OEConnection has hired about 40 people so far this year and now has more than 220 employees.
When the auto industry stalled in 2009, so did OEConnection's growth. The company, which typically expands its staff by 15% to 20% each year, started filling new positions again in 2010, said Amy French, director of marketing.
“For us it was a direct tie to the recovery in the automotive industry,” Ms. French said.
Virtual Hold Technology LLC, based in northwestern Summit County, has been in a “constant hiring” mode since March, said president Mark Williams. The company, which sells software that helps call centers call people back instead of putting them on hold, employs more than 100 today, up from about 90 on Jan. 1, and it's shooting for 125 by year end, he said.
His company's experience aside, Mr. Williams noted that he works with several IT companies outside the region that aren't hiring. Plus, he said he's “seeing a more cautious tone from customers” because of uncertainty in the broader economy.
“I think companies are going to know where they stand by the end of the year,” he said.