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Wednesday, Jun 7, 2023

Women Entrepreneurs: #34 Carrie Nebens

When it comes to the staffing industry, Carrie Nebens believes that the barrier to entry is low but the barrier to success is high. When starting up Equis Staffing in 2006, Nebens put herself on the path to success by having an internal staff that would have a positive effect on the candidates seeking jobs and the client companies doing the hiring. “We felt that hiring good people who are experienced would be the cornerstone of what would make Equis successful,” said Nebens, president of the Calabasas firm. Equis currently has nine employees who place people, called candidates, with backgrounds in accounting, finance and IT on a consulting and direct hire basis, either full time, temporary or on a contract. The roster of clients that have at one time or another used Equis’s services to hire the candidates include Amgen Inc., Walt Disney Co., Dole Food Co. and Wesco Aircraft Holdings Inc. “I consider us like a business service and clients are paying us fees to help us identify candidates to make their businesses successful,” Nebens explained. She started Equis in 2006 after working for larger staffing firms, including as executive vice president of North American operations at On Assignment Inc., now known as ASGN Inc., in Calabasas. She also had a stint as a branch manager at Robert Half International. Nebens said she had decided it was time to be in business for herself. “I looked at it as an opportunity to establish a company in my own neighborhood to help people locally benefit from the good work I was able to do,” she said. Corporate lessons One lesson Nebens didn’t follow from larger companies was the model of just hiring as many people as possible and seeing who can stick it out. Nebens said she did not want to do that with Equis. Instead, she went with experienced professionals to open doors and keep turnover low. “One of the people who is with us today was a day one employee,” Nebens added. “That is always exciting.” Within 18 months of the company’s launch, however, came the Great Recession. That she was running a company based on getting people jobs and was able to keep it going during a period of high unemployment was quite the accomplishment, Nebens reflected. “It’s like a dark experience but it’s an experience I am thankful for because I feel it was the base that allowed Equis to thrive and move forward,” she said. The circumstances that Nebens found herself in during the recession exemplifies what she called the pendulum effect of the staffing industry. When she started the company in 2006 and into 2007, there was an emphasis on finding good candidates; by 2009 the pendulum had swung the other way and good candidates were not tough to find. “You had to figure out how to get clients that needed your services,” she said. “We have spent the last eight years with the pendulum creeping the other way.” And that leads to a lesson other business owners can learn from Nebens’ experience – namely, looking forward and anticipating trends. The quicker a company is able to make adjustments and guide your business appropriately, the better it will survive, Nebens said. She is once again expecting that finding good candidates will be the place that Equis needs to be in. “I don’t even want to call a client today unless I know I have a good employee to represent and put in front of them,” Nebens said. As a woman running her own business, Nebens said her management style isn’t as much gender specific as exhibiting qualities that tend to be more prevalent in women, such as being a good listener. That allows her to understand what people need to be successful, making sure you are taking away obstacles that impede their success and putting things in front of them to find success, she added. Having an open mind on work-life balance is another quality that Nebens said exhibits how her gender affects her management style. Nebens calls herself a “results watcher and not a clock watcher.” As long as her team works hard and gets the jobs done, they don’t have to apologize for when they come in a little late or have to leave early to balance their life around their work, she said. “I do think that women who have had to balance that tend to have that lens on things,” she added. – Mark R. Madler

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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