In 1968, Wayne and Jessie Godshall founded Godshall & Godshall Personnel Consultants Inc. Fifty years later, the company now known as Godshall Professional Recruiting and Staffing has undergone drastic changes, but the core values of this family business have remained the same – and it’s still owned and run by a married couple.
“It’s always been a husband-and-wife company,” said Drew Brown, who is owner and vice president of marketing and sales. “And we’re all still married,” joked Julie Godshall Brown, owner and president.
Just like her parents, Godshall Brown and her husband have complementary skills that have helped them shift with the changing economic landscape. “The advice my mom and dad gave us was to focus on your own core strengths and stay out of each other’s way,” she said.
Wayne and Jessie Godshall have been retired for more than a decade, but enjoy attending events such as a recent party celebrating 50 years in business. “It was so much fun,” Godshall Brown said. “I so much wanted them to feel like it was a celebration of what they started, because it’s certainly a great foundation we’re standing on.”
After working briefly for a franchise in the staffing industry, Wayne Godshall decided to open his own firm in Greenville. “My father was one of those people that, regardless of the type of business, he was going to run his own business,” Godshall Brown said. “He was an entrepreneur.”
The couple started in the Daniel Building (now the Landmark Building) and were the only two employees. A strong economy led to steady growth, and as staff members were added, the business eventually moved to Cleveland Street across from the Greenville Chamber of Commerce.
“They had fairly smooth sailing, though with a lot of hard work, in those early years,” Godshall Brown said.
A key transition period began in 1981, when a recession transformed the industry. This was the beginning of what was called the temporary service, a diversification that allowed Godshall to weather economic highs and lows. “There is a balance between the temporary, or what we call contract staffing, and the direct-hire side of our business, and it ebbs and flows,” Godshall Brown said.
When the economy is strong and the job market is tight, direct hire makes up a larger percentage of the company’s work. In more recessionary periods, and recovery from those periods, contract work shifts to the forefront.
The Browns say adding temporary staffing in response to customer need set the tone for the company going forward, and now there are key points every few years where “we identify a client need, and then we have to decide if we are best equipped to match that need,” Godshall Brown said.
A recent example involved health care staffing, which Godshall has done for decades, though they had focused on placing administrative staffers and not clinical posts. When clients asked them to place clinical professionals, the Browns had to weigh their ability to fill that need, and realized they should add it to their offerings.
“We’ve had to change as Greenville has changed,” Drew Brown said. In the early years, the focus was on placing executives and management at textile and manufacturing firms because those dominated the Upstate workforce. Now, the company still works with niche textile companies, but has responded to the changing workforce, working with automotive and plastics companies, health care, banking, engineering, IT, and more.
A new generation
Julie Godshall Brown always loved the family business, and as a teenager worked answering phones on holidays or evenings. She and her parents agreed that after college, she would work elsewhere in the industry to gain experience before joining the firm, so she earned a master’s degree in human resources and worked in technical recruiting at AT&T before returning in 1995.
Drew Brown began as an engineer but had spent almost a decade in sales before he was brought on board at Godshall in 2002.
Two years later, Wayne retired, and Julie and Drew purchased the business and moved to the current site across from County Square. And it all occurred during a jam-packed three-month span.
The next major challenge occurred with the recession in 2008 and 2009, when many competitors struggled to survive after focusing on one business sector or just a few large clients. The diversity at Godshall carried them through.
“Health care stayed strong, and several niche industries related to education. We were fortunate,” Godshall Brown said. “We are blessed to partner with the largest companies in our area, but we are also pleased to work with companies that might hire one or two people per year. Working with so many small companies and so many different industries has really been a blessing that has allowed us to weather the hard times.”
Today, the company employs 21 core staff, with thousands of field associates placed at more than 500 companies each year. Staffing firms aren’t often considered a large employer, but Godshall Brown said her company provides benefits, matches taxes, and creates W2s for each contract staffer. “They are all Godshall employees, and we take care of them as such,” she said.
The Godshalls plan to continue focusing on relationships and a diverse client roster. “The biggest challenge for us will be to recognize those opportunities the way my parents did,” Julie Godshall Brown said. “We want to recognize the opportunities to serve our clients in different ways based on their needs.”
Drew Brown adds that the company will continue building on the foundation laid by Wayne and Jessie Godshall. “Mr. Godshall has made the comment to me that he’s extremely proud of Julie especially, for taking over the company and not only just running it, but improving it,” he said.
The Brown’s children are 18 and 16 and have enjoyed pitching in, but it’s too soon to say if they will bring a third generation to the family business. The couple said they will follow her parents’ example and allow the kids to make their own decisions.
No matter where the future leads, the Browns have learned to build new client relationships and offerings while also working closely with clients that have been with them for generations. “Technology may change, our market focus may change, our offerings may change completely, but hiring the top talent we can hire, keeping an eye on your business levers like cash flow – those kinds of things don’t change, and they haven’t changed since 1968,” Godshall Brown said. “Those core things that make a business successful will be the same 50 years from now.”