A Creative Strategy Changes Economic Lemons Into Lemonade

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Creative Circle

When we partnered with Creative Circle—a high growth specialty staffing company serving the digital media markets—in 2008, we knew that a weak economy could impact the business. But, as veterans of three decades and four economic cycles, we were not deterred. We saw that the long-term opportunity trumped the short-term economic uncertainty.

Within months after our investment, the recession was in full swing, businesses across the board were cutting costs, stocks and real estate values were crashing, and the economic prognosis was grim. Of course there was only one thing to tell Creative Circle’s leadership team — keep building for the future. We called it “passing in the curve.” So when everything straightened out again, they’d be leading the pack.

As a result, the company continued to open new offices and add talent. One of our strategic advisors counseled Creative Circle on talent management strategies to improve recruiting, retention, and training. We connected them to an IT executive who had been successful with a prior RLH portfolio company who helped them significantly enhance their IT systems. With his guidance, the company invested in an important software upgrade to improve the effectiveness of their recruiters and their client executives in meeting client needs.

Several years later, at the end of our partnership —a partnership that existed during the biggest economic downturn of this generation—Creative Circle was organically growing revenue at 25%+ per year and had become the 2nd largest creative staffing company in the US.

Truth In Numbers

2x organic revenue growth despite
the Great Recession
3x organic EBITDA growth while
opening 8 new offices
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