Growing Great Companies

Celebrating 30 Years!
The Ropella Story

30 years ago I started my recruiting career (at the age of 22) with Management Recruiters, (a contingency search firm), in downtown Milwaukee. I was offered a desk focusing exclusively on the chemical industry. Then I moved to downtown Chicago and joined Cook Associates, (a boutique retained search firm) with a desk also focusing on the chemical industry. After 5 years in the search business – I started Ropella.

The view out my office window,
overlooking our horse ranch

The first 10 years of Ropella, I worked as a sole practitioner (no employees), and most of these years were from my 20 acre horse ranch in Milton, Fl. I was mostly placing entry level sales reps and chemists. As I climbed the ladder, I began placing executives into the entry level management ranks for my fast growing list of chemical manufacturing clients. This was a very profitable period, as my business expenses were basically a phone bill… but the minute I stopped working, my business revenue would completely shut off.

So in the year 2000, my wife Robbie and I decided to start hiring and building out a search firm. We carved off 5 acres (out of the 20 we lived on), built a second home to be used for offices and stocked it full of desks, phones and computers and started hiring.
Second home used for offices,
located on the horse ranch property
The following year on September 11th – the World Trade Center in NY City was attacked and as 9-11 unfolded… our business pretty much collapsed overnight. We watched in dismay as pretty much every company we were serving put in place emergency hiring freezes - stopped traveling – stopped interviewing and simply waited – wondering… when would the next shoe (terrorist attack) drop.

Over the next year we laid everyone off, then sold the horse ranch and then the second home, while we cleared out most of our retirement savings to keep up with the pile of bills and debt we were responsible for. Then we slowly crawled back to prosperity. A year or so later we were renting 1,000 SF of office space and had 5 employees. 3 years later we were renting 8,000 SF and had 30 employees. This is when we decided to draft plans to build a larger building with enough room to house up to 50 employees. At this point we were experiencing record years in revenue production – one on top of the other. Our cash "war chest" was now restocked and at the same time we were offered federal, state and local tax incentives, grants and low cost land to expand faster, with the goal of creating even more high paying jobs in our local community of Milton, FL.

Ropella Corporate Headquarters

In October of 2008 we moved into our brand new, custom built, 15,000 SF Ropella corporate headquarters building. Over the next 6 months we watched in frustration while news reporters exclaimed that we were in a recession – then it was a “great recession” and even heard “quite possibly we are heading into a depression”. The next couple of years were incredibly challenging to say the least. We downsized dramatically – cut costs everywhere possible and then doubled down on marketing and business development efforts like never before.

As a result - hallelujah - we survived and even took off like a rocket as the recession ended. Well over 50% of our competitors left the business entirely during this period. We are now happy to report, once again we are thriving and are now one of the largest single location search firms in the country. We are also the largest and most well recognized Chemical Industry search firm in the world, and have once again experienced record years in revenue over the past 5 years. We also have expanded well beyond the chemical industry, now serving technology and consumer products companies worldwide.

Ropella Group

We look forward to what the coming years may bring and look forward to growing many great companies, as we help them recruit and hire top notch talent by applying our trademarked SMART Search System as we help our clients make The Right Hire.

Thank you to all the employees who’ve supported us, the many clients and candidates we’ve served and a gracious God who has answered a great many prayers over the last 30 years.

Patrick B. Ropella
The Ropella Group
Ropella turns 30

Having invested 30 years as an Executive Search consultant, we’ve had many very interesting experiences… that said, boy could I tell some crazy stories. As the old saying goes, the only constant is change and wow, have we seen our share. For your consideration, here’s 3 major trends we’ve seen unfold:

  1. Job Changers: What used to be frowned upon… is now the acceptable norm.

    “Job Hoppers” don’t seem to even exist anymore. While people used to get a job and often hold on to it until retirement, these days, switching jobs every few years is considered a great way to “build your skills” and “gain valuable cross-training experience”. 30 years ago if you changed jobs more than once every 10 years...

    Show More ▼
  2. STEM Employees: Where are all the (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) candidates?

    This topic is often discussed as an alarming trend, especially amongst industry leaders, the media, policymakers, and educators – when planning for future hiring needs. While there is much evidence that points to a shortage in the number of STEM workers available today to meet the demands of an aging workforce, especially with baby boomers now retiring...

    Show More ▼
  3. Knowledge Capture: Where’d the valuable mentoring and apprenticeship programs go?

    Seems very few process technology companies are investing in mentoring and/or apprenticeship programs anymore. As a result we are seeing extremely valuable - time tested experiences, and intellectual knowledge being lost forever because of the lack of a planned knowledge transfer process.

    Show More ▼
Special Deal
In honor of our 30th anniversary, we want to say a big Thank You to our many wonderful clients by offering a great deal! The first 10 clients that call in with a new retained search will get a 25% discount*.
*Must mention this promotion and the search's salary level must be greater then $150,000.
Celebrating 30 Years!