Weinfurter, Daniel Joseph
Weinfurter, Daniel Joseph
Parson Group LLC
Daniel Joseph Weinfurter is the founder, president and CEO of Parson Group LLC, a corporate staffing and consulting service headquartered in Chicago. The company, which he started in 1995 as Current Assets LLC, was one of the fastest growing private companies in the late 1990s. Parson Group specializes in improving organizational effectiveness in the areas of finance, accounting and business systems. With his company, Weinfurter created a new niche in the staffing services market by catering to clients who had high–level staffing and consulting needs.
Daniel Weinfurter was born April 16, 1957, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Joseph Thomas and Betty E. (Stanton) Weinfurter. He graduated with a BS/BA degree from Marquette University, in Milwaukee, in 1979. He earned an MBA degree from Marquette in 1984 and did postgraduate work at George Washington University in Washington, D. C. in 1984 and 1985.
Weinfurter began his professional career in 1979 with General Electric Information Services. For the next 11 years he worked for General Electric and Intelogic Trace, Inc. in sales, marketing, and management positions. He joined Altenative Resources Corporation (ARC) in 1990. When he was working for ARC, he developed the idea for his own company, Current Assets LLC, which he founded in 1995.
A Roman Catholic and Democrat, Weinfurter married Martha Marie Brennan on May 14, 1983. They have two daughters, Amy Jordan and Andrea Taylor. Weinfurter's recreational interests include running, racquet-ball, bicycling, golf, and reading. Weinfurter is an active board member of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and the Boys and Girls Club of Chicago.
For Weinfurter the road to Parson Group LLC began at General Electric Information Services, in Milwaukee, where he started his career, as a service account representative, in 1979. From that point on, his career path took an upward trajectory. In 1982, he was promoted to senior account representative at General Electric. Continuing his growth within that organization, he became a project manager in Rockville, Maryland. In 1986, he became the acting regional sales manager for General Electric Corporation in Morristown, New Jersey. That same year, he was promoted to district sales manager in Bensonville, Illinois. In 1987, he left General Electric to join Intelogic Trace, Inc., in Schaumberg, Illinois, where he was a regional sales manager. He became area sales manager for the company in 1989.
Later that year, Weinfurter joined Alternative Resources Corporation (ARC), an information staffing company, in Lincolnshire, Illinois. He was hired as the director of business development. In 1990, he was promoted to vice president of operations. He became president of Alternative Resources Corporation Ventures in 1993.
A former colleague at Alternative once commented that Weinfurter provided the kind of quiet leadership that fosters trust in coworkers. That quality also inspired productivity. In his five years with the company, Weinfurter supervised the opening of offices in 30 new markets. By 1994, when the company went public, revenues had soared to more than $94 million.
However, in 1994, Weinfurter developed an idea that would soon have him leaving ARC to start his own business. The basis of the idea was a market need that he perceived. At the time, established staffing companies were offering generalized staffing and consulting support, or they offered clerical staffing support for accounting departments. Weinfurter observed that few staffing companies could offer more complex and sophisticated help in areas like budget analysis or systems reconstruction. Neither could they provide a temporary replacement for vacant high–level positions. Weinfurter realized there was a large void in the temporary staffing solution marketplace, and he saw an opportunity to start a company that could provide the services of seasoned professionals who could offer accounting and finance operations support and project management to large companies.
The viability of his idea was underscored for him by problems existing within ARC, where Weinfurter had an up–close glimpse of what can happen when successful corporations find themselves with inadequate personnel resources. ARC was a growing company, but its accounting and financial–reporting system couldn't handle the stringent new reporting requirements that came with success. The staff had difficulty meeting deadlines.
Conditions in the corporate world at large were another motivating factor. The corporate downsizing trend in the 1990s had decimated the staffs in the accounting and finance departments of large companies. The idea of outside help from accountants and other professionals began sounding appealing to high–level executives at these companies. So, the need was growing, and the niche was wide–open and ripe for the taking. Weinfurter knew he had to act quickly on his idea.
First, he sat down and composed what was essentially a one–page outline of a business plan in 1994. The plan attracted the interest of two venture capitalists, Samuel P. Chapman and J. Jeffry Louis, who had started a venture capital company called Parson Capital Corp. They wanted to hear more.
Chronology: Daniel Joseph Weinfurter
1979: Graduated from Marquette University with a BS/BA degree.
1979: Hired by General Electric Information Services.
1984: Earned MBA from Marquette University.
1989: Joined Alternative Resources Corporation.
1994: Created business plan for Current Assets LLC.
1995: Established Current Assets LLC.
1996: Opened office in Minneapolis.
1997: Changed company name to Parson Group LLC.
2000: Entered partnership with J.D. Edwards.
All went well when the three men met. The potential investors liked Weinfurter, respected his success at other companies, and, most important of all, they believed his plan had significant potential. They realized that Weinfurter's plan had indeed recognized a new niche.
The business would be called Current Assets LLC, and Chapman and Louis provided $7.2 million funding during its first two years. (Weinfurter contributed another $800,000 to bring the total to $8 million.) In the meantime, Chapman and Louis tried out Weinfurter's idea on high–level executives in the area, who responded positively. After that, they helped Weinfurter design a detailed business plan.
Louis and Chapman, who had numerous contacts in the business community, then set up a board of directors. According to Inc. magazine's article in 2000, the high–profile members included "Jerry Pearlman, the former chairman and CEO of Zenith Electronics Corp.; Donald Perkins, the former chairman of Jewel Cos, Inc., one of Chicago's largest grocery chains; and Sam Chapman's father, Alger Chapman, who was vice–chairman of ABN AMRO," the international banking organization.
In July 1995, Weinfurter officially launched Current Assets LLC to provide interim accounting help in the Chicago area. But by the time he launched his service, Weinfurter saw that other companies were already picking up on the idea. Therefore, he implemented some strategies that would make his company different from the others. Most important, Weinfurter decided that Current Assets would not market its employees to customers as a possible temp–to–perm solutions. After all, as Weinfurter pointed out, why would a professional–services firm want its clients to hire away its best people. Also, Weinfurter did not want his company to conduct audits or prepare tax returns. That would have put his company into competition with top accounting firms, and it would have required costly liability insurance. In keeping the overhead down in this fashion, Current Assets could offer more competitive fees.
With everything set in place, Weinfurter next had to find clients. At first, doing so involved the arduous and sometimes tedious process of making "cold calls" to area Fortune 1,000 companies. The board of directors, with all of their contacts, also pitched in. Plus, Chapman and various employees called upon their own contacts to generate referrals. The combined effort and strategy paid off as, in its first year, Current Assets was servicing some of biggest companies in the Chicago area.
Still, Weinfurter did not allow himself any complacency with this early success. He realized he would have to expand the company quickly. After all, he had a good idea, and it would not be long before even more companies would enter the market. What he wanted to do next was establish a national presence and eventually expand into the top 20 markets in the country. The first expansion site chosen was Minneapolis. Weinfurter picked the city in 1995 because it was a relatively small market that was located close to Chicago. In 1996, they opened an office in Dallas. That same year, Weinfurter opened an office in Boston.
Recruiting became Weinfurter's top priority. He frequently travels to interview the best managerial candidates. Realizing just how important good people are to his kind of business, Weinfurter developed an appealing recruiting pitch. His company, he would tell prospective employees, enables accountants to move higher and much quicker than they would in a traditional corporate culture. Current Assets also offered a full–time salary instead of hourly rates as well as equity in the company.
In 1997, Weinfurter, seeing that the accounting–staffing market had indeed become more crowded, implemented several major changes. First, he shifted the company's focus toward high–level consulting. To go along with that, he changed the name of the company to Parson Group LLC. Another motivating factor was the growing number of headhunting services available on the Internet, which cut into his business. Also, the shift toward consulting just seemed to make more sense to him. Earlier in the year, the company had already tried to attract consulting projects. Then, too, customers had always asked his employees to handle more complicated projects. Parson Group LLC also began looking into more complex areas like mergers and acquisitions, integration, risk management, and enterprise resource planning. The company still maintained its staffing business, but it started calling itself a consulting–services company in its new markets. It turned out to be a good move. It brought in $6 million of funding from the Chicago–based Bank One Equity Capital.
Still, the shift in focus involved new concerns. Over-head increased because Weinfurter had to hire more in–house, full–time employees to build a consulting staff. He also realized that it was a risky move, as it is hard to predict market needs. But a year or two after the change, half of the company's revenues was coming from consulting work. At the time, Weinfurter predicted that by the end of 2001 it would account for about three–quarters of its revenues.
By 2000, Weinfurter had met with investment bankers who were interested in seeing the company go public. At the time, Weinfurter felt Parson Group LLC was not ready yet. It still had some more growing to do. And that is what he expected his company to do. He hopes to see it bring in as much as $500 million by 2004. Weinfurter had good reason to be optimistic. In its five years of existence it showed a growth rate of nearly 28,000 percent.
Weinfurter is also taking his company into online world. In September 2001, Parson Group LLC had entered into a strategic partnership with J.D. Edwards and Company, a leading provider of collaborative solutions for the Internet economy. Their alliance, called an Extended Solution partnership, is aimed at helping clients realize lower total cost of ownership and quicker return–on–investment on enterprise software initiatives. More specifically, the new partners intended to provide specialized industry and technical expertise in financial and professional services, business process engineering, systems optimization, and mergers and acquisitions to J.D. Edwards customers worldwide.
Social and Economic Impact
On the surface, it might seem unlikely that someone like Daniel Weinfurter is the founder of what has been called America's fastest growing private company, particularly one that provides high–level financial advice for big companies. After all, he admits that he is not a very good "numbers cruncher." In fact, he says he even has trouble balancing his own checkbook. But what Weinfurter does possess is the ability the grasp the larger picture. Throughout his career, he has been able to recognize new market niches as well as anticipate trends. His remarkably perceptive powers seem to be largely responsible for his company's tremendous growth. Parson Group LLC boasts more than 800 employees, and, in five years, its sales soared from $200,000 to $56 million. Even at the outset, its services had immediate impact on the operations of over 1,000 companies. This dynamic growth resulted in Parson Group being named the number–one Fastest Growing Private Company by Inc. magazine in 2000.
From its inception in Chicago, Parson Group LLC has grown to include offices in Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York/Northern New Jersey, Santa Ana (CA), San Francisco, and Stamford. Currently, the company serves also 550 national and international clients.
Sources of Information
Contact at: Parson Group LLC
333 W. Wacker Dr., Ste. 1620
Chicago, IL 60606
Caudron, Sharon. "Permanent Solutions for Temporary Staffing." Controller Magazine. November 1997. Available at http://www.businessfinancemag.com.
Hansen, Susan, "Ready, Set, Grow." Inc. 15 October 2001. Available at www2.inc.com/incmagazine/20746.html.
"J.D. Edwards and Parson Group Enter into Strategic Partnership,"J.D. Edwards Newsroom. 11 September 2001. Available at http://www.jdedwards.com/NewsRoom/archive/2001/parsongroup.asp
"Parson Group Company Profile." 2001. Available at http://www.parsongroup.com.
"Profile: Board of Directors." 2001. Available at http://www.parsongroup.com/profile_people_board.html.
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