Doing Whatever It Takes
Not every staffing company will offer to pay for forklift certifications, help a client get their GED, or lend a client gas money to get to work until that first paycheck kicks in, but for Romayne Johnson of the Drexel Group, it’s all part of doing what she loves—helping her clients succeed in finding the perfect job.
Born in northern Illinois, Johnson moved to Pennsylvania as a teenager, surrounded by a very creative and successful family. She has a background in social work with an MSW from Temple University.
While working for Head Start upon graduation, she was given the opportunity to go to UCLA for a Johnson and Johnson Business Fellowship with the Anderson School of Business.
“The combination of social work and business education gave me an advantage in the business aspect and the people aspect—a perfect fit for running a staffing company,” she said.
Johnson got her start with the Drexel Group, where she is now owner and president, when she married her husband Robert 12 years ago and began helping him in the business. One of her earlier projects with Drexel “was to start up a new hospitality division called Drexel Dining,” Johnson said.
Drexel Dining provides hospitality staff to local organizations, and although Johnson said it was tough to break into a new market with no experience, “it turned out a lot better than expected. Drexel Dining is now a thriving division. I have built a great team who are loyal, fun, and share the same strong work ethic as myself.”
Helping people is one of the things Johnson particularly enjoys about her work with Drexel, and despite considering herself a bit of an introvert, she will gladly put herself out there for the benefit of her clients, both those seeking jobs and those looking for qualified employees.
“I like to get people good jobs,” she said. “I job counsel or steer people in the right direction. I find clients who treat their employees well and then find good employees for them. I love the challenge of helping both the employee and the client—that is satisfying.”
As the economy has begun picking up, so has the amount of clients Johnson finds herself working with, and although she enjoys being very hands-on and seeing how her clients are doing, it’s more difficult these days. But that’s a really a positive thing because it signals an increase in business and in successful job placements.
“I’m fascinated about finding out all about different industries in Central Pennsylvania,” Johnson said. “It is abundant, and it’s a great place to do business.”
Johnson has a long-term vision for her company, and thus, constantly takes necessary risks to keep Drexel relevant in what is currently a very competitive business environment.
“I also remain financially prudent,” she said. “I do take advantage of the programs within the commonwealth—we are a Nationally Certified Woman Owned Business and one of our top 10 clients uses Drexel for that reason.
“Also, several years ago I was approached by a national staffing agency made up of small, women-staffing business owners, asking me to join them. The company is called ANSERTEAM—and I am now a managing partner.”
Going above and beyond what is expected to help a client be successful is common practice for Johnson, but she does so in a prudent manner.
“My staff joke with me that when candidates come in to Drexel, they don’t know it but they are going to get helped in ways they never thought,” she said. “If I can get my temporary staff on their feet with a good job, for me that is giving back … it helps them get a job and be productive in the community, and it helps the client get a good employee.”
Through the years, Johnson has come to realize that what’s important is that she’s doing the very best job she can do in making her company successful.
“I don’t handle failure very well, and that keeps me driven,” she said. “I used to compare Drexel with all of the other staffing agencies in the area and gauge myself on how they are doing. I have learned not to do that anymore … I had to find balance. There is so much business in the area—there is enough for Drexel too.”