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Who better than a solution provider to identify talent for an IT organization? For customers of a growing number of solution providers across the country, the answer is clear: They rely on the providers not only for IT services but also for IT staff recruitment.

For providers, staffing services are a natural extension of their business, even if it seems to counteract other industry trends. Such trends include outsourcing and managed services models that call for providers to take over IT functions at customer sites, allowing customers to keep staffing costs down.

But just as channel employers complain of challenges in finding IT talent to staff open positions, so do their customers. And for providers, this need allows them to put another bullet item on the list of offerings to capture what might otherwise be a missed revenue opportunity. Acting as a recruiter for customers is nothing less than a smart business strategy.

One such company is Ensynch, a $26 million provider of IT infrastructure services, managed hosting services and IT staffing. Ensynch got its start in 2000 delivering professional services, but a couple of years later it bought a recruiting company. The goal was to find the best people to meet Ensynch’s own technical staffing needs, but that soon changed, and today IT staffing is an integral piece of Ensynch’s business, accounting for about 40 percent of company revenue.

"We’re in the people business to get the best and the brightest for our internal operations," said Gene Holm­quist, Ensynch’s president and CEO. "We’re also able to use staffing to help our clients." Ensynch has three locations and about 220 employees.

For ITG, a division of Corporate Technologies and formerly Intermountain Technology Group, providing staffing services is more than just a competitive differentiator. "It’s a way to grow the relationship and trust with our clients," said Kristi Beckett, division director of staffing and consulting at ITG.

ITG, which has had a staffing arm for almost 10 years, initially recruited to meet its internal technical personnel needs for project-based work. However, when customers needed IT talent, they turned to ITG for direction.

"We soon became a staffing resource for our customers," Beckett said. "We began to see some good margins and started the staffing division." It wasn’t long before ITG began providing other local businesses with staffing services as well.

Today, staffing accounts for about 30 percent of ITG’s business, according to Beckett. The company also handles strategic IT planning, product procurement and solutions integration. ITG offers staffing services regionally to the general business community as well as to IT channel partners nationwide.

Uncovering Value

If nothing else, solution providers are adept at finding value wherever it appears to help build strong, long-term relationships with customers. So staffing services have turned out to be a good fit for some providers.

"For us, staffing is about growing the business and maintaining our client base," said John Sarzoza, president of MNIT Consulting. "Once you have a client, you want to keep them." A 4-year-old IT consulting organization with 10 employees, MNIT provides infrastructure management, technology consulting and IT services for small and midsize business customers. Sarzoza noticed that while it was financially feasible for some clients to pay his company’s engineers for long-term projects, it was cost-prohibitive for others and, in some cases, didn’t make good financial sense.

"It made more sense to hire someone full time," he said.

But MNIT wasn’t in the staffing business, and more than once Sarzoza saw an opportunity slip away. "I wasn’t interested in becoming a recruiter, but at the same time, it bugged me that we were missing out on an opportunity to help our customers," he said.

That was before MNIT began working with Ingram Micro IT Staffing Solutions. Since November, Sarzoza has acted as a broker for clients looking to hire technical employees. He does this by using Ingram Micro’s staffing arm.