Thermoforming Report

10-Year Celebration!

by Keith Brown, President & Owner, Siena Group

10 years.  Wow! It’s kind of a big deal. 

Siena Group is a 10-year-old small business as of June 2024. It’s been quite a journey! Though I have journaled and blogged about how we got here over the years, I thought it would be good to revisit a few key decision points and critical moments. As stated in our June Thermoforming Report, it is always good to look back to get a better understanding of where we want to go in the future.

People ask why and how I made this massive career change and though I get into more specifics in my explanations, this two-word answer is truly that simple: burned out. Try working 80-100 hours a week for about 5 years in two different organizations and tell me how you would feel. I was crispy, to say the least!

I had a friend in the recruiting business who had also decided to make a life change. I met with him, did my due diligence, learned, prayed, did the math, and took the leap of faith. It was exciting and new.  There was so much to learn and so many people helping. I can say – and will continue to say – that if you are starting out in this business, MRINetwork (now HQI) is a great way to do it.  The training, support, and resources are top-notch!

 [Curious about how I made the leap of faith from manufacturing leadership to recruiting? Read about my roller-coaster, life-changing, paradigm-shifting journey in last June’s blog: “My Story: ‘What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?’”.] 

Recruiting is a hard business! I’m guessing that is the case with any new business venture. And though you are told this fairly constantly, you are still very excited and very naïve about how things will go. And I struggled – mightily.  Part of it was just learning the techniques. Part of it was how easy it is to be a recruiter (low barriers to entry) and therefore how crowded the space is. Part of it was the sheer fact that a new business takes time to get established. 

I was very fortunate and blessed that I had some cash set aside – and some that I really didn’t want to tap into. I had two choices: pull those funds or bail and go back to the manufacturing world. I believed in this business and believed I would succeed, so I stuck with it. 

And it was still hard.

And it still is. 

Yes, we are successful and have grown. But, it takes time, effort, energy, resources, and dedication to do this job well. Its success is directly related to how much effort you invest. Sure, there are quick wins, but most of the time it requires significant expertise and time to get it done the right way.

Over the course of my career and life, I’ve learned some things. 

One of them is how to ask for help

No, I don’t do it often as I’m sure you don’t either. However, there are things that are hard to do… and people who are experts who come alongside and support you. A perfect example is the project still in process at my house (described in May’s blog): I have great friends with expertise helping me!

Another example is Rob Edwards. We met at an MRI training session early on in my journey and immediately connected. I was suffering, told him I needed help, and, because of his years of experience in the recruiting business, he had more job orders than me and offered them up for me to work and fill. I jumped at the chance, and low and behold, I made several placements. 

More importantly, I began to look at the business differently and aligned Siena Group with the approach that he utilized – and voila! Thermoforming manufacturing became our niche. I did the research and worked to understand the process and the products associated with thermoforming. I sought out companies and people. I landed a couple of new clients, and I started to see job orders of my own.  And I never looked back!

I learned. I adjusted. I grew. I stuck with it. I learned some more. 

That’s the lesson. It isn’t sexy, and it isn’t new. But there it is! 

With thermoforming as our chosen niche and few clients in place, I just kept at it. Lots of reading and tons of conversations with industry people – from engineers up through senior leaders. I began to see trends.  I began to understand the market better. I began to have more intelligent conversations and provide a bit of my own insight. And, I was busy! The highly-focused niche was a success, and I kept at it.

With additional training – and listening and learning from other small recruiting offices’ success – I made some additional changes in our approach. The biggest was to feature some of the talent we were already working with… because access to talent in a particular niche was and is highly valued. What I found is that value applied to both the candidates and to the decision makers – putting great people in front of great companies ultimately ended up in big win-wins. It was still challenging, but as I learned and grew, I began to hone and tune the approach to be more efficient and effective.

I continued to build on the success we achieved and to solidify our place in our niche.  I kept plugging away and though I was doing well, something was missing.  My marketing efforts were a bit hit-and-miss, and though we were doing a lot of work, a lot of it was contingent search activity and therefore was not as productive.

I knew Siena Group provided tremendous value and needed to make that crystal clear with our current and especially our future clients and partners. The Priority Search was born. Again, though not a new idea and actually a best practice, when I finally decided to start utilizing it, it was impactful. The business relationships I formed were great, and through the use of the Priority product, we were able to deepen the trust we’d built. The shift also allowed us to move into more impactful and more senior level roles.  In turn, we then featured these higher-level leaders, and the snowball kept rolling.

I was growing and working on higher-level roles, but I was also busier than I’d ever been and something had to give. Though our marketing approach was sound, in order for it to be effective, it also had to be consistent. And it wasn’t. And to do it the right way also took even more time. So, marketing is what slipped. I had to do something, and I knew what it was: I had to add to the team and make a hire.

I needed someone to absorb all of the marketing work, someone to help with operations and process (to aid in streamlining and efficiency), and to support searches as it made sense. 

Enter Lisa Willett. She was at a point in her long-term and very successful career as an educator to make a change. Like so many teachers, Covid was highly stressful, and she decided to step away. A gifted writer who also needed a creative outlet, this role provided key challenges, a whole bunch of new things to learn, and a fresh start. Her impact has been and is tremendous.

So, what’s next for Siena Group? More of the same – just better! As we look to the future, we’ve been looking back at what’s worked and what hasn’t. We always strive to improve to better serve our partners.  We want to provide the highest quality and level of service, creating wins for our customers and wins for those great people we assist in finding great new organizations.

We’ve done a few brainstorming sessions and are going to work to incorporate some of those ideas into the business model. We aren’t ruling out growing either – adding another phenomenal asset to our team who can in turn develop more partnerships and relationships with great leaders. 

In the main article “Celebrating Milestones” from our June Thermoforming Report, we referred to a Medium article about the significance of recognizing importance achievements. “When you acknowledge your progress, you are encouraged to set new, ambitious goals for your career. The celebration becomes a stepping stone, propelling you forward with renewed determination and focus.

Over the course of June, we set out to celebrate our 10-year milestone all month. We’re very grateful to have had this time to remember how we got here, reflect on what we’ve learned, and recognize what it will take to continue to grow and prosper.

All in all, it’s been an amazing 10 years, and we are excited about the next 10! We are here to strengthen your search!

At Siena Group, we are your Thermoforming Talent Partner! We’re here to help in any and every way possible! With more than 30 years of experience in manufacturing, hiring & recruiting talent, we bring a greater understanding of the companies we partner with and the candidates we pursue. Let’s Strengthen Your Search!

Share our post with others

Love what you see? Share it with your connections now.