When Tony Sorensen began Parqa Marketing, he wanted to create a digital marketing agency that could meet the highly specialized needs of the staffing industry. Because Parqa began as an offshoot of Versique Search & Consulting, we started with niche expertise vital to serving our client’s unique needs. As a result, we have been able to help our clients grow their businesses and expand their market share in ways that nobody else could.
We recently sat down with Parqa’s CEO and Owner, Tony Sorensen, to discuss the beginning of Parqa, what we’ve been able to accomplish for our partners, and where we’re headed in a rapidly evolving industry.
Why Choose the Staffing Industry?
At first, it was just dumb luck. I was single. I was working for a big company then, my first job right out of college.
I moved up fast with that organization. But I didn’t want to work for a big company. And I wanted to be responsible for where I was going, be in control of my job, and grow my career like I thought I could. But most of all, I wanted to help people.
I was able to take an opportunity in staffing and recruiting, which was a perfect fit even though I was nervous about the pay being 100% commission. But thankfully, I took the opportunity because, you know, it really worked out for me, and it gave me my start in the staffing and recruiting industry.
In January 2013, Chris Ohlendorf and I launched Versique with a simple vision. It was going to be two things:
- We were going to hire really great people.
- We were going to own the internet.
We wanted to own the internet so that anytime anybody searched for “staffing and recruiting” in Minneapolis or the Twin Cities, they would find us. And if we were going to own the internet, we knew we’d have to invest heavily in digital marketing. That heavy investment in marketing would eventually pave the way for Parqa.
We’d already got a taste for what a solid investment in digital marketing could do for our staffing agency, Versique. Big things. Incredible things. So, we began Parqa because we wanted to really give back to our industry and start helping other staffing firms around the country to grow just like Versique did.
What are some of the Challenges Parqa Has Faced In The Past?
The beginning of Parqa was not without its challenges.
For starters, we were signing contracts with so many smaller companies that weren’t willing to invest in their brand. Also, we thought anybody could do what Versique did. But what I didn’t realize was internal marketing at Versique was investing heavily – a lot of time and energy – in building our brand through content marketing. And while that worked very well for Versique, we found many companies weren’t interested in making that investment.
The early years of Parqa were decent, but we were struggling to find our passion and ideal customer profile. When Jared began running the business, he was able to lock us into a path that we haven’t wavered from, which has allowed us to attract some very high-end talent and, in return, helped us bring on some of the largest staffing firms in the world as trusted partners.
Challenges help us to learn, and some of the biggest things I’ve learned are:
- To hire experts.
- Surround yourself with people smarter than yourself.
- Surround yourself with mentors and learn from them.
- Admit when you’ve been wrong and move on to a better solution.
One of the most important things I’ve learned is that the place where Parqa is going, we’ve never been there before. The best way to get there is to hire the right people and give them the confidence to take you there.
Is it working? Over the past 12 months, Parqa has hired 33 people, and we’ve had the lowest turnover ever. So yes, so far, it’s working very well.
What Did Parqa Learn During the Pandemic?
With COVID and the pandemic, we learned a thing or two about flexibility. Chris and I probably grew more in the last two years than probably the previous seven years combined.
It was hard for us to make the shift to working from home. It was hard for us to come around to the idea of people not being in the office five days a week.
But, I had to listen to what my team was saying and what my leaders were saying. I had to believe that just because my team isn’t in the office doesn’t mean that they’re not productive. So that was a big change.
But you know what? While working remote – and more recently, working a hybrid situation – we had two record years, not just in growth, but in how we’re changing to serve our clients and employees better.
We learned that if you take off the old-school hat and really build an organization around trust and accountability – which I think we have done over the last seven years – you build a culture of trust. We still love the people we work with, and we want everybody to be part of a close-knit company, and I was so afraid that we would lose all that during COVID.
What is the future of Parqa?
We realized we really need to focus on forward-thinking staffing firms. Firms that understand how critical it is to invest in their brand, invest in and organize their technology, invest in the best tools that will really help them grow value in their organization, and ultimately, grow a legacy for what they’re trying to do.
And now we’re working with some of the biggest staffing firms in the world. That’s a big deal for us to see how far we’ve come and how far we’ve yet to go.
But we’ve seen Parqa evolve and grow to become more of a technology and performance marketing company. And the Parqa name is out there. We are owning the internet.
What’s more, our Parqa team is learning so many things from all of our industry associations and partnerships. So, the tide has kind of turned. Where other firms had wanted what Versique had, now Parqa is learning so much at conferences and collaborating with industry leaders across the globe that we really feel like it will be one of the main driving forces in Versique’s growth into the future.
Do You Have Advice for Staffing Agencies?
We’ve heard from several sources that 60% of business in the staffing industry will be some sort of contingent labor. This means there is no better time than now to really build your marketing strategy and invest in your brand as a staffing agency.
If you’re going to win, and we want you to win, you need help. And we can help you get there.