The founders of Wellington Steele & Associates Inc. see Rochester as a region brimming with potential to become a hub of technology, and they hope to be a major force behind it.
The consulting and staffing firm has carved out its place as a leader in supplying talent to the technology sector, and President Edward Leva said there is room to grow along with the region. An influx of talent within the photonics sector and a growing software development sector present opportunities for Rochester, ones that Wellington Steele will help the region seize upon.
“We want Rochester to continue to flourish,” Leva said. “If you want the best talent, that’s our focus.”
Leva has been betting on the Rochester area for nearly 14 years now. In 2002, he had the chance to move to Boston for a new consulting job, but instead met with John Gaudu about an opportunity the two saw in Rochester.
Gaudu owned a technology service company, and together the two saw an opening locally for a company that could provide recruiting, consulting and outsourcing for the technology sector.
Wellington Steele, the firm they created, has gained a strong foothold in this area, growing on the strength of what the owners call a strong group of dedicated and deeply knowledgeable employees. Many of the company’s offerings have a technology bent, including consultation for IT strategies and advice on business transactions introducing new technologies.
The region’s growing technology sector is a major driver of business, Gaudu said.
“There is a lot of growth locally that has come from the smaller to midsized companies,” he said. “There is a lot of software development, especially around security. Rochester is really becoming an affordable software development community, especially compared to places like New York or Chicago.”
The region also benefits from the talent coming out of local colleges and universities, Gaudu added, something Wellington Steele is able to provide to employers.
“It’s getting easier to keep a lot of the local RIT graduates here than losing them to the West Coast, where there’s a lot of development work,” he said. “The lifestyle costs are astronomically high compared to here. For $3,000 a month, they can rent a little two-bedroom apartment in California, but here for that same amount you can buy a beautiful home in Pittsford.”
The region also benefits from the area’s senior executives who have come to see the benefits of bringing technology- based work here, Gaudu said.
“There are a lot of senior people who have stayed in town and worked their way up at the Fortune 100 companies that are here, a group that can start hiring people to fulfill projects,” he said. “It’s getting easier for them to go budget money from their corporate headquarters and keep the headcount in Rochester than to take twice the budget and move it to California.”
Wellington Steele has built a reputation as an expert in recruiting, Gaudu said.
“We’re a true recruiter, not a company that’s going to go online and grab 50 resumes and send them to you,” he said. “If you need a true search to find the top Oracle development architect and he’s working somewhere else, our job is to find exactly who it is and then work at getting them out of that somewhere else.”
The company has grown at a rate of close to 20 percent for the past few years, and Gaudu and Leva forecast growth of around 15 percent in the coming year. If growth trends continue as they expect, the company is on track to nearly triple in size.
“We’re fortunate to have a lot of Fortune 500 companies that we work with to bring a lot of high-end work here,” Gaudu said. “If all the pieces fall in place, we will be roughly three times the size we are within three to five years.”
The future is brimming with potential, Gaudu said, especially as the incoming photonics boom strengthens the region’s reputation as a technology hub. Gov. Andrew Cuomo just announced that two companies, Avogy Corp. and Photonica Inc., will be moving operations to Rochester in connection with the $600 million American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics that will be established here.
The move is expected to create 1,400 jobs in the region, and Gaudu noted that photonics will be creating technology jobs across all levels.
“With photonics, there’s a lot of optical engineering involved, so it sounds like a very high-tech catch-all phrase, but it really covers a lot of disciplines that have well-paying jobs,” he said. “There is going to be a lot of opportunity here.”
The Rochester Top 100 program is presented by the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. The 2016 Rochester Top 100 event will be held Nov. 2. For more information, go to greaterrochesterchamber.com.
Wellington Steele & Associates Inc.
Provider of IT recruiting, consulting and outsourcing services.
Year founded: 2002
2015 ranking: 29
Top executives: Edward Leva, president and co-founder; Robert Gaudu, vice president and co-founder
2015 employment: 63
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