Hudson Recruits Top Guns In the Recruiting Field
The simple sign in the window, “Alan Davis & Associates”, gives no clue to the activity inside the building at 538 Main Road, nor the scope of the business, run by husband and wife team Alan Davis and Diane Bates. Theirs is a business which is adept in “picking winners” – an internationally recognized leader in the recruitment and selection of specialists for businesses large and small: aerospace, automotive, banking, defense, electronics, oil and gas, communications, pulp and paper, real estate, transportation, to mention a few.
But perhaps their most prestigious and exciting recruiting job they have had was finding four Canadian astronauts for NASA. In 1992, The Canadian Space Agency put out tenders. The agency said it was looking for ‘specialized engineers and scientists’. “We knew it was astronauts,” said Bates. Alan Davis was one of 17 companies which submitted a bid. The competition was narrowed down to two companies with the final selection based on two things: technical properties and price. “We beat out the other company on price,” said Davis.
That contract saw the company receiving 5,300 CVs for four jobs in a three week period. They interviewed the top 50 candidates. The biggest compliment Davis got was on the fairness of the selection. Not one person complained about the process. As an off-shoot of that job, Davis and his family were invited by astronaut Dave Williams to visit Cape Canaveral this spring. “The astronauts are all really nice people,” said Bates. Not surprising, she said considering one of the key requirements for an astronaut is compatibility!
No blue-glassed, high-rise prestigious location for this company. Davis and Bates found that they could conduct business just as easily, and with a lot less stress, in a two-story house, surrounded by trees, where staff meetings may be held at the picnic table outside just as well as in one of the two conference rooms.
Davis attributes a change in perception to the technological changes of the past ten years. “Today people don’t care where you are. Location is not a factor.”
Computers, e-mail, voice mail have changed the way business is done. “We don’t mail CVs now, we e-mail them. We’re right up to speed with technology. We’re all net-worked,” Davis said.
Nor is running a business as a married couple a problem. “We play complementary roles in the business,” said Bates. Davis’ expertise is in marketing and project management, Bates’ is in finance and administration. But keeping business out of their home has taken some work. “The hardest part is respecting the line,” said Davis. “We agreed we’re not allowed to talk about work,” said Davis. They occasionally do, but their children prefer they don’t.
Davis and Bates have four children (two boys and two girls, ranging in age from 6 to 14 years). Sharing responsibility for the children makes them flexible and very understanding employers. “There’s a lot of give and take,” said Davis.
The flexibility is appreciated by the office’s 16 employees, many of whom have young children themselves. One employee, who gave up a job with a large company in the West Island three years ago to join Alan Davis & Associates in Hudson, says she has never been happier.
“It’s like a big family. It’s a wonderful place to work.” The Hudson office was opened in 1993 at 455 Main Road (now Pause for Paws), moving from a high rise office in Pointe Claire. Rents in Pointe Claire were “unreasonable”, said Davis. “More expensive than the downtown office,” Bates added. The couple had already moved out to Hudson to live, so why not open an office in Hudson too and save all the commuting? “It was the first time we had an office where you can open a window,” commented Davis.
The Hudson business started with four employees, but grew rapidly. By 1997 they needed a bigger place. By sheer coincidence Heidi’s gift shop decided to relocate around that time. Davis and Bates decided it was the perfect location for them.
Davis never thought he would end up in recruiting when he came to Montreal from England in 1978. The Sheffield native was a structural engineer. Bates was born in Montreal but moved to England at the age of 13. She took up a career in accounting and finances. The couple married in 1971 in England.
Davis was unable to find a job as an engineer in Montreal (there was a recession) but he was hired by an employment agency to be in charge of high-tech placements. Bates found a job with Northern Telecom as a financial analyst and then with the Royal Bank in corporate taxation. “We were very much career focused,” said Bates. “At first I had no intention of having children.” That changed as well as their careers.
Alan Davis left the agency in 1983 to start his own recruiting business downtown. Initially it was focused on the high-tech field, but now enjoys a broader base after the company went through a restructuring in 1993. “The majority of our clients are in Quebec and Ottawa,” said Davis. “We have others in Vancouver and the U.S.” They not only do the recruiting for companies, they also give seminars to help companies recruit effectively for themselves.
Alan Davis & Associates Inc. recruits people from all over the world. It has undertaken several recruitment campaigns in the U.S. for the clients in the aerospace industry. “British nationals are delighted to be coming to Quebec,” said Bates. “They are happy their kids will be learning French!” The company also recruits in the U.S. for U.S. firms. “We have beaten out U.S. companies . . . Geographic boundaries are hardly an issue anymore,” noted Davis. Hudson, Qc: 450-458-3535 www.alandavis.com