The impacts of the recent Pinstripe and Ochre House merger.
By Elliot Clark
Five years ago I had a spirited debate with a CEO of one of the top RPO firms. He was not as convinced as I was about the spread of global RPO. I had long believed (back to my Kenexa days) that eventually global companies and global providers would agree that HR services needed to be—what was the word I was thinking of—well, global.
Last month we saw the merger of Pinstripe and Ochre House as evidence that this trend is now simply a global given. Pinstripe has been a leading provider of RPO and talent management solutions to clients since its inception. It has grown to be one of the top players in the space and the only top player (with the acquisition by IBM of Kenexa) that is not a division of a global staffing or HR BPO firm in North America. Pinstripe has industrial vertical expertise in financial services, manufacturing, technology, and healthcare.
Pinstripe was initially funded by R.W. Baird and has done a good job in dealing with the private equity firms as evidenced by securing a significant second round from Accel-KKR. The company used these funds to invest internally and secure the merger with Ochre House. Ochre House has been a challenger brand for the last few years and has also grown dramatically. It also expanded globally, buying TAAHEED and Carmichael Fisher to secure markets in the Middle East and North Africa. There may not be a lot of RPO in the Middle East and North Africa right now, but if you recall the quote by ice hockey great Wayne Gretzsky “that it was not about skating to where the puck is but where it is headed next,” than this strategy makes great sense. The combination of the firms creates a company with more than 750 professionals servicing clients in 43 countries in 26 languages. Both impressive and necessary to support global HR organizations.
The Pinstripe and Ochre House merger started as a partnership agreement in 2009. The problem with partnerships is that many of them have not gone well for the providers or the clients supported. Alexander Mann Solutions (AMS) partnered briefly with The Right Thing (now ADP) and then decided to launch in the United States itself after differences in the corporate cultures caused issues. SourceRight Solutions had a global partnership with Hays until they were wooed away from that romance by Randstad with, frankly, a couple of billion dollars. In each case, the stress of maintaining the relationship may have exceeded the benefit and the anxiety extends to the customer. I have had senior-level HR executives tell me that they will not buy anymore from companies with a “partnership story.”
Almost all of the RPO firms are now part of global staffing firms. Pinstripe based in the U.S. and AMS in Europe are the largest “independent” firms out there in the market, but on size alone, I am not sure what “independent” means anymore. I might add under the definition of independent would also include Peoplescout, WilsonHCG, and SevenStep RPO. But among the independent firms, Pinstripe now ascends to the level of true global player.
They can challenge any international staffing firm on footprint, capability, and language support. It was a necessity to survive in the rarified and highly competitive atmosphere at the top of the RPO market.
We congratulate Pinstripe and Ochre House on the merger. It changes the game, and adds a new and potent player to the 2014 RFP season.
And what is next? I don’t know. Which RPO firm has the contract to staff the first space station?