Originally published in Staffing Success Magazine (Sept-Oct 2004)
By Luanne Crayton
“After a year, you’re going to love this business and stay in it, or you’re going to run screaming.”
David Cepicka tells that to everyone who interviews for a position at TOPS Staffing LLC in Pittsburgh.
Cepicka himself wasn’t so sure he wanted to join the staffing company founded by his mother, Mary Dvorsky, in 1987. So when he graduated from Pennsylvania State University in the early 1990s, he went to work for UPS. And his mother went to work recruiting him.
After a year and a half, he concluded that a career asking, “What can Brown do for you?” was not for him, and he joined Dvorsky’s growing business, helping to launch a new service in technical staffing.
He’s been with the business 11 years. He oversees the company’s sales, negotiates contracts, and carves out time every week to cold call. He has helped start two offshoot businesses. And he hasn’t screamed yet.
Cepicka also invests significant time and energy as an industry volunteer. A technical services certified staffing professional, he previously served as president of the National Technical Services Association. This year, he was appointed to the ASA board of directors.
“David is passionate about this industry,” says ASA past chairman Kathy Rogers of Time Services Inc. “He understands the bigger picture, not just technical staffing. He knows that together, with one voice, we can be so much more than we can be as individual segments. And that makes him an effective leader.”
John Leopold of Techstaff Inc. preceded Cepicka as NTSA president, and calls him a credit to the industry. “The things that jump out at you about David,” he says, “are that he is very sincere and very committed to the industry, he’s thoughtful about big issues, and he has a lot of energy.”
Finding a New Home
If you run into Cepicka at Staffing World 2004 in Washington in October, you’re likely to hear him talking about the ASA sections. Four were created in 2003 to serve the needs of specific industry sectors, including technical staffing.
Last year, when NTSA began to consider dissolution, Cepicka set about finding a new home for the association’s members. He became a driving force behind the creation of the ASA Technical, IT, and Scientific section, and he chairs the policy council that coordinates its activities. Three other sections were established for health care services, labor services, and placement and recruiting.
Cepicka reflects on the technical section’s first year, one in which the improving economy proved to be a mixed blessing. “Business started to get better, people had less time to devote to trade organizations, and it was difficult to get things scheduled,” he says. But a strategic plan has taken shape, and after a summer strategy session, he is confident that the section knows where it’s headed in 2005.
Long term, Cepicka would like to see the technical section capitalize on the strength of all ASA members that have only segments of their business in technical services—companies like his own that offer services in other sectors as well.
“The big thing is awareness,” he says. “The sections need to continue to build programs and services so that companies know we’re there.” He sees the ASA convention as a way to boost awareness. In addition to the sector-specific learning tracks, Staffing World offers the opportunity for Cepicka and others to make a “concerted effort to talk to people about the sections.”
Cepicka is committed to education—and to certification for staffing professionals.
“It’s amazing to me that our industry—$62 billion a year, represented strongly in business worldwide—doesn’t have a curriculum of study for kids coming out of high school,” he says. The closest alternative, a major in human resources, doesn’t prepare students for staffing.
“The staffing industry is not the human resources industry. Some functions are similar, but at its core, staffing is a sales job—for the recruiters who build the candidate database, network with employees, and gather sales leads; and for the salespeople who get on the phone, get appointments, and craft solutions for clients.”
Absent a college curriculum, the next best thing is certification, Cepicka says. “It lends a huge amount of credibility among clients and employees.”
Cepicka was part of the committee that launched the Technical Services Certifiedª program at NTSA. And ASA certification—through the TSC℠ program or the Certified Staffing Professional™ program—is “mandatory for every single one of my staff.”
He cites the importance of a consultative approach in working with clients—understanding what they need and coming back with solutions for them.
“We want to project an image of professionalism,” he says, “and that’s where certification comes in.” He adds, “I drop ASA’s name five times a week on sales calls, letting clients know that we are a member of an organization with high ethical standards.”
As a child, Cepicka was not the action figure type. Basketball, football, and soccer did it for him. They still do. And now he’s added another sport.
“I play a little golf—but not well,” he says, lamenting a lack of talent and time. “But I’m not a hacker. I can get around the course.”
Between the ages of three and 13, Cepicka lived in Indiana, where he learned to love Indiana University basketball, coached by the legendary Bobby Knight.
Cepicka says, “At 5 feet, 9 inches, basketball was not in my long-term future.” But thanks to ESPN, he still catches the Hoosiers’ games.
His hoop dreams may live in Indiana, but when it comes to rushing, blocking, and tackling, he’s a Nittany Lion through and through, and you’ll find the Penn State alumnus and his family cheering their team at the university’s home football games.
In his youth, Cepicka fared well with soccer. “I played through high school and in my early 20s recreationally,” he says. Then he passed the ball to his daughters and now coaches their teams. “I enjoy the girls’ games a lot,” he says, “although at ages 5 and 7, it’s not World Cup.”