If Delores Kesler hadn’t started a home health care agency 37 years ago from her house, she wouldn’t have created Associated Temporary Staffing, which grew into AccuStaff and then MPS Group.
If Kesler hadn’t taken the risk of entrepreneurship, then MPS Group wouldn’t have been available for acquisition by Adecco, which is based in Switzerland.
And without having bought MPS Group, it’s unlikely Adecco, the world’s largest global staffing company, would be moving its North American headquarters to Jacksonville.
That was some kitchen table.
“It is all a building process,” Kesler said.
“Adecco would not be moving its American headquarters to Jacksonville had they not purchased MPS Group. There would not have been an MPS Group had there not been an AccuStaff IPO in ‘94 to raise the funds to grow a national company,” she said.
Kesler said the original seed was planted with the founding of ATS. Kesler said Associated Temporary Staffing was shortened to ATS until she brought in her three partners and it became AccuStaff.
After her retirement from the company in 1997, the name was changed to Modis. “It was a large company, so they made an all-encompassing parent company called MPS, which was Modis Professional Services,” she said in a March 2011 interview with the Daily Record.
Consider the parallels to the One Spark Festival this week. She had an idea for a business, and see what happened.
“It all started with one seed, but there were a lot of hands on the plow over the years to grow MPS into a company that would attract the attention of a world renowned staffing company like Adecco,” she said last week.
The Wells Fargo Center Downtown, which began as the Independent Life Building, served some time as the AccuStaff building and then the Modis building.
The first time Kesler saw AccuStaff’s name at the top of building, “I thought, I can’t believe this, that I founded a company and I’m running a company that has a name on a hallmark building Downtown,” she recalled.
After Adecco bought MPS Group in 2010, it moved the functions to the suburban Southside. Adecco promoted MPS Group CFO Bob Crouch to Adecco CEO in 2012. He maintained his office and home in Jacksonville.
“To think, from one little card table and one little phone and one little yellow pad, that we’re now part of the largest staffing industry in the world. Now that’s full circle,” Kesler said in the 2011 interview.
When Kesler, 73, retired, she started a capital investment venture, Adium LLC. She’s in business with her son, Mark Pass, and daughter, Deborah Pass Durham. They were the two young children she was raising when she became an entrepreneur.
Along the way, Kesler made history, including leading AccuStaff to its 1994 initial public stock offering and being told at the time she was the first woman on Wall Street to take a company public.
When she started her company, not only was she taking a risk, but it seemed that banks considered her a significant one. She had a business plan that needed a $50,000 loan. She couldn’t find a bank willing to do that. A high-school contact who was president of Barnett Bank in Clay County loaned her $10,000 on his signature.
“He was very nervous about it. He said, ‘Please don’t let me down,’” Kesler recalled in a September First Coast Success feature in the Daily Record and on WJCT (89.9 FM).
“It was very successful from the start and six months later I paid him back the $10,000 and he loaned me the $50,000. So it worked out well,” she said.
“Then of course the bank got all ‘well look at what she did’ and everybody at Barnett likes to say they floated me in business,” she said in the 2011 interview.
Jacksonville-based Barnett was acquired and is now Bank of America.
Adecco S.A., based in Zurich, Switzerland, employs more than 31,000 full-time workers around the world. It provides temporary and permanent staffing services in more than 60 countries and territories. Adecco’s total global revenue was about 19.5 billion euros, equivalent to about $27 billion.
The North American group is a significant part of Adecco’s operations, producing about $5 billion in revenue last year.
“It takes a village to make an impact of the magnitude. Jacksonville will definitely benefit from this move and with Bob Crouch from Jacksonville as the CEO that is definitely a plus,” she said.
Tyra Tutor, Adecco Group North America senior vice president of corporate development, said Kesler influenced her career. “She was already retired from AccuStaff when I started, so I didn’t work directly with her, but she always stayed in touch and she always watched out for me,” she said.
“She’s very philanthropic, very smart, and she continues to give back from a business and a philanthropic standpoint,” Tutor said.
“She is a great asset, a great lady. Jacksonville is lucky she calls Jacksonville home.”
Adecco Group North America’s national headquarters move to Jacksonville can be traced back to a Jacksonville single mother who started a business from her kitchen table.