BY CLAUDIA DABOUB
MGMG355 LEADERSHIP IN ORGANIZATIONS
PROFESSOR: DR. ROBERT TRODELLA
JULY 5, 2012
I had the honor of interviewing Mr. Bernard Howroyd, who has had more than forty-eight years of leadership experience in the staffing industry. The interview ended up taking much longer than I expected because I was so influenced by what he had to say, I did not want to miss anything. Bernard, who is known to his employees as Bernie, has made a career out of making the impossible come true. He has transformed himself from a poor young butcher’s apprentice into a multimillion-dollar businessman and founder of the North America’s largest, privately held full-service employment company. Bernie was born in a largely industrial section of England. After working as an apprentice for a local butcher, he scraped together his savings and set off on a journey around the world. To finance his travels, he often worked odd jobs—selling Bibles in Australia and combs in Brazil. "I met thousands of people from as many different cultures and I learned very quickly that no matter where people are from, no matter what language they speak, everyone needs to feel heard and respected."
Utilizing this insight, Bernie founded a small staffing firm called Howroyd-Wright Employment Agency, which he renamed and incorporated his business as AppleOne in 1968 in the state of California. Starting with meager savings, Bernie opened an office in LA’s Wilshire District and was down to his last $5.94 before the first placement check arrived. That one client was all it took to get the ball rolling on an amazing tale of growth and success. As with any business, Bernie’s company had its share of advances and setbacks, but his remarkable commitment to find, understand and fulfill the needs of another never failed him.
Recession hit and the economy came crashing down in ‘89, it dragged businesses along with it – including AppleOne and many AppleOne clients. Times were tough, but because Bernie strongly believed in his vision, “Clients for life”, he persevered, delivering services to the best of his and his company’s abilities. After the crises, Bernie and AppleOne emerged stronger, wiser and in one piece – and partly because of Bernie’s unflagging support – so did the AppleOne clients. And so it became an AppleOne commitment to always be there for clients, helping them weather even the stormiest economic climates.
“My faith in our people and company have always paid off,” says Bernie. As AppleOne grew, expanding from one branch to over 250 locations throughout North America, the company also flourished into becoming the largest privately held full-service staffing provider.”
My conversation with Bernie took a direction that I did not expect. He attributes his success to the leadership traits that he has learned over the years, and quoted many of the very ideas and theories almost verbatim from our class lectures. This was an incredible experience to witness first hand how these traits become behaviors and practices.
Throughout the course of our interview, Bernie laid out the history of his leadership experience, and pointed out how he has learned many of his characteristics from watching other people. Bernie heavily noted how leadership and management styles have made a drastic change over the last 48 years but one thing remained the same “if you have faith, and take the time to understand your people, it will always pay off”. Bernie recalled “at one point, he even refused to take a salary for two years rather than let down the growing number of people who had come to rely on him for their livelihood.”
Throughout his experience as a leader, Bernie noticed this approach being used, and vowed to build his company based on his understanding of each person’s challenges and needs. He attributes his success to this very idea.
Strong interpersonal skills are one of the most important...