Finding the Solution
Vicki Hubiak turns basement business into multi-million dollar company
BY BOB BOXELL / PHOTOS BY JERRY BUTTS
It was 1994, and Vicki Hubiak faced a career crisis. For 15 years she had been climbing the ladder at Peabody Energy, all the way to employee relations manager of the Midwest Division, before the age of 40. In 1990, however, Congress had passed an amendment to the Clean Air Act to significantly reduce acid rain within five years. By 1994, the amendment had taken its toll on the coal industry, and Hubiak was spending much of her time handing out pink slips to employees. The work became, in her words, “overwhelming” and “depressing.”
Hubiak resigned from the only employer she had known since attending the University of Evansville, set up a desktop computer in the walk-out basement of her Henderson, Kentucky, home, and went to work as a human resources consultant and certified resume writer. Despite her departure, Hubiak was respected so much by her former bosses that she signed Peabody as one of her first clients.
Twenty years later, as HR Solutions celebrates this milestone anniversary, the woman who took a leap of faith in becoming an entrepreneur has turned a business in her basement into a $10 million company. She is president and owner of HR Solutions, Inc. in Evansville, which serves businesses and individuals with five core services: staffing, executive recruiting, outplacement, executive coaching, and training. Hubiak and her staff of 15, including her son, Nicholas, recently purchased and moved into the former Umbach & Associates building on St. Joseph Avenue near the intersection of the Lloyd Expressway after outgrowing their longtime location across the street. The new building is named the HR Solutions Business Complex and has 18,000 square feet. It also is an income property for her business.
“I never thought it would be to the level it is today,” Hubiak says with a shake of her head and a smile. “One thing I learned early on is that when you go above and beyond, and exceed expectations, you connect with people. I love working with our team. We’re ever-changing and growing and learning every day.”
HR Solutions provides temporary, temp-to-hire, and contract employees for many diverse clients ranging in numbers of one to more than 170. More than 100 of these positions are at $18 an hour or more. It’s the job of HR Solutions to advertise for these positions, then review applicants to find the best qualified candidates.
Detailed testing sessions, reference checking, background checks, and in-depth interviews by Hubiak’s staff whittle down the list, and clients interview the finalists. Many of their candidates tell them they have never been through such an in-depth hiring process and that the process has a lifelong benefit to them, while providing HR Solutions clients with a highly pre-qualified talent pool and excellent job skills match.
“All of our clients feel we are an integral part of their business,” says Hubiak, about the relationships she and her team have built with their clients. “High-quality staffing and recruiting is what we do for all clients. Whether they need one employee or 100, our process of pre-qualification is the same. What we do works, because we are able to give our clients the cream of the crop of candidates. Most of our employees reach the point of being fully trained and are ready to become an employee of the client. By this time, the company can see that the employee is performing at a high level, is a good cultural fit and that they have a good, solid work ethic. They’re high quality.”
There are many clients who Hubiak has worked with since the day she started her company in the basement of her home. Hubiak has instilled in her staff a strong desire and commitment to building relationships with clients. These clients range from large manufacturing companies to small family-owned businesses, and include industries such as health care, engineering, pharmaceutical, energy, and finance. This spring, Hubiak is heading the search for a new CEO for a major health care provider. Clients like this and others have turned Hubiak’s home business into a multi-million dollar operation, but individual successes please her the most.
“I just hope we continue to make a difference with people,” Hubiak says about her company’s future. “We’ve helped people who simply don’t understand why they cannot get a job. By listening, and coaching them, giving feedback, and helping them improve their computer skills, we can guide them. We fully prepare people for an interview, not only to speak about their skills and experience, but by making sure they understand the expectations and the culture of the company where they’re interviewing.”
As a businesswoman, she is recognized in the community as a driving force for giving back both through her service on nonprofit boards and committees, and monetarily. Over the years, Hubiak and many others on her staff have put in time and resources to help local nonprofits, notably the Women’s Fund of Vanderburgh County, SCORE, YWCA, Boys & Girls Club of Evansville, United Caring Shelters, Aurora, Girl Scouts, Ronald McDonald House, Evansville Rescue Mission, American Red Cross, and Tri-State Food Bank.
Hubiak especially is proud that her company is able to serve as an H-1B sponsor for Tianlin Xu, a Purdue University graduate from China whom HR Solutions recently placed in a chemistry lab analyst position at a local manufacturing company. Hubiak and staff members BethAnn Langlois and Amanda Smith are working with an attorney through the American Staffing Association to assure that Xu can stay in the U.S. through what is called H-1B status, which allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign citizens in specialty occupations for three to six years.
“Tianlin sent BethAnn a big bouquet of flowers; she was so happy,” Hubiak says of Xu. “This employee has made a big commitment through her education and training, and I’m so glad we were able to do this. This process can be complicated and companies will sometimes shy away from the financial burden and the legal process. This was a milestone for us in being able to sponsor her. Our company grows from meeting people, and learning, and listening, and helping others. We exceed expectations and give back. I believe in that. I have a passion for that.”