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Multichannel Merchant

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Staffing: Cataloger labor crisis

By Mark Del Franco

Mailers face worker shortages at all levels.

For San Jose, CA-based telephony products cataloger Hello Direct, being located in Silicon Valley has its advantages. For
one, it’s the center of the Internet universe; it’s also a desirable place to live.

But the $80 million cataloger must also compete for top engineering talent with Internet behemoths such as hardware provider
Cisco Systems and computer software/manufacturers Apple Computer and Hewlett-Packard. Since half of Hello Direct’s
products are proprietary and highly technical, recruiting the best and brightest engineers is crucial to the company’s long-term
success. “In the old days, candidates were line up outside your door,” says director of marketing Denny Waldera. “Those
days are over.”

Terre Simpson, president/founder of New York-based direct marketing recruiter Simpson &
Associates says that catalogers generally offer more money up front. The dot-coms, ironically,
promise more on the back-end in the way of stock options and bonuses. “Suppose a candidate
has offers from both a catalog company and a dot-com,” she says. “The cataloger offers $200,000
for a senior-level marketing position. The dot-com offers $150,000, but includes ‘silent share,’ so
that if the company goes public, the shares push the compensation well past $200,000. It’s a risk
that many candidates are willing to take.”

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