Connexis Search Group serves molecular diagnostic laboratories and medical device companies to fill key roles from C-level to genetic counselors and experts on infectious diseases.
In this episode, CEO Tony Bishop shares their key differentiators:
- How they partner with clients to help them grow their businesses
- The top-notch training for their recruiting staff
- The Diagnostic testing and life science expertise they bring to their clients
- How they help their clients beyond placements
Read more about turning employee potential into success.
Brad Wolff: 00:01
Welcome to the “It Is About You Podcast”. Today I’m honored to have as my guest Tony Bishop with “Connexis Search Group”. Tony, Welcome to the show!
Tony Bishop: 00:14
Yeah! Thank you Brad. Honored to be here!
Brad Wolff: 00:16
Absolutely! So if you would please share a little bit about yourself and “Connexis Search Group”.
Tony Bishop: 00:22
Okay! “Connexis Search Group”. We’re a permanent Placement Recruiting Firm, which means basically we’re doing full time employees in the Medical Device Life Science Biotech Spaces as the areas we work in. And we kind of feel like full range of candidates from Sales Reps to PhDs to Doctors. And we do this across the United States. We employ about 25 recruiters and I’ve been doing this for 2 decades now.
Brad Wolff: 00:56
Awesome! So if you would, tell me a little bit about your journey that’s brought you to where you are today as the Owner-Founder of Connexis.
Tony Bishop: 01:07
Okay! Yeah! No interesting story there I started off in Medical Device Sales. That’s where I started my career. Well, I suppose back up a notch. I actually started off as, I was a Chemist, worked in a laboratory, in a Pharmaceutical Lab, did that for 3 years and just was not fulfilled. I’m sure it’s a good job for certain people. It wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be. And so I decided that I wanted to try something else. I went to a lot of people in the sales world and started asking them questions about sales and it sounded exciting. They were out meeting people and helping people with products. I decided to jump into sales. And so I did that. Work my, I did a variety of stuff, mainly sales reps for Life Science Companies for Diagnostic Companies, later moved into management and finally got to a VP level of several different companies.
Tony Bishop: 02:13
And when I finally got there, I started thinking that was fulfilling because I enjoyed training and developing the people that worked with me. So I’d love that piece of it. And the big, quite honest with you, I’m a pretty big Tony Robbins’ follower. And at the time I was living in Chicago and that’s the first time I went to one of his seminars and it was with the Fire-Walk Seminar where you walk on the “Bed of Calls” or whatever and that but during that whole process, you know, I kinda started getting motivated to, you know, become the next level, maybe become a business owner. So it kind of led me to that, you know, to have the independence to run my own business so that propel me, I jumped out of a corporate job, you know, as a Vice President that was paying you know, really good money to recruiting that was paying nothing, zero, no commission.
Tony Bishop: 03:13
My wife was like, “ah, what are you doing?” we have two young kids, I’m not working and you just left a Corporate Job, the nice base salary company car. But it was really kind of my goal and it was something I got fired up about. And so if we’re for the last, I suppose, 20 years, that’s what I’ve been doing. Now, I will say I did have a partner who owned the company originally who brought me in. He was a great mentor, taught me the business you know, kinda he became kind of a coach for me too and kind of pushed me to the next level. So I’m very grateful for that gentleman and his help. That’s how I got here. And that was that’s right at 20 years ago.
Brad Wolff: 03:57
Terrific! So the bottom line is you were, you know, very few people go into the Staffing and Recruiting business right out of school and but you were in the industries that you place people in, so you really have a deep understanding of those industries and then you just transition into helping companies hire the people they need in those industries.
Tony Bishop: 04:17
Yeah! I mean it definitely helps to have the understanding because I do have 25 recruiters that work with me and some of those are industry experts like myself, probably 5 or 6 of them. But now the younger ones that are not, that didn’t grow up in this space, obviously you have to share that knowledge with them. And help them understand just the technologies and the companies in this space. And so it certainly makes a big difference to have that, that knowledge. And probably more importantly too is you can actually share that information with us and with your clients.
Brad Wolff: 04:53
Right! Because that you’re in a niche and that’s what makes you valuable. So tell me what excites you the most about your organization?
Tony Bishop: 05:02
Now? To me, probably the most gratifying thing is to be a “Value Partner”, you know, to be a “Resource” for our clients and is so interested in that. After you’ve done this for 2 decades, now you look and you see what works and you see what doesn’t work. You can say these startup companies and this mainly we work with small to medium size companies who are introducing a new technology. And the founders typically are brilliant people obviously because I’ve come up with a technology that’s very unique and needed. But on the other hand, they really had, a lot of times I don’t know how to commercialize a product or a test. And so the, the people that we really like to work with and enjoy work with now use us as a “Resource” to help guide their business beyond just recruiting. And to me that’s, that’s adding value and it makes you feel like you’re a “Partner” with them and you’re guiding them along the right paths because we’ve seen what works and when you say and what doesn’t work and some people receptive to letting us help them that way. Others are not but you certainly offer that information to anybody who’s willing to listen.
Brad Wolff: 06:27
So you’re talking about “Partnering” with your clients to grow their business. Can you give me an example of what you would do typically that would really provide value to your clients that are trying to grow?
Tony Bishop: 06:40
Yeah, I would say the main thing that we do with most of the partners, most of the companies we work with, a lot of them and they have the technology but the most of the time is on the commercial side of the business and how to commercialize and generate revenue, which obviously is pretty important. And you know, there’s one, several companies that come to mind, but there was one probably 10 or 15 years ago that was just a, it was an eight person operation and I got to know the CEO of that company and we talked now usually every morning about 6:30 because he was just incredibly driven person and that was, he asked me to say, Tony, can you call me early because my staff comes in about 7:30 and I’d now like to talk to you then.
Tony Bishop: 07:32
And so we helped that company build the whole as a whole company. Eventually that company was sold for 450 million to Becton Dickinson, which is a big player in the market. And that CEO and I are still friends. We talk all the time because we were partners with them and we didn’t try to, we didn’t just try to sell them people. I mean, like a lot of recruiters are trying to sell you people. And I tell all my recruiters here, I don’t want to ever hear you do that. I mean I want you to present the you know, the good and the bad about candidates because there’s no perfect obviously fit. And so that was probably more just from sheer resources and building that company up. I think they are probably a 200 person company now, by the time they were purchased by Becton Dickinson for 450 million.
Tony Bishop: 08:29
Now that’s one example. You know, right now we’re working with a company that, you know, the CEO’s, you know, Stanford Grad, great product but they’re not getting reimbursed, you know, through all the managed care organizations. So if you’re in that space and you’re not getting paid, what difference does it make? And so we’ve been talking to them about a reimbursement strategy. And so we connected them with a consultant who is well known in the space and so now you know, he’s coming in and actually kind of cleaning up. They probably should have started with this first and it was no one how they were going to get paid and having to get reimbursed. It was a thought process of Hey, if we have a great test, then it’ll get used or get ordered. And it just doesn’t happen that way as a practical aspect of medical that somebody’s got to pay for.
Brad Wolff: 09:24
Right! And the bottom line is payment isn’t necessarily automatic as it would be in a lot of businesses that you just send an invoice and you get paid. So we talked about Partnering with your clients to help them grow their business. What else comes to your mind as a key thing that makes your firm unique, Tony?
Tony Bishop: 09:40
Well, I mean, the training part of my staff is critical because, you know, if they’re going to be advising these hiring managers on how to hire a people. And to me, they should know how to hire people better than the people they’re advising. And so, you know, I tell them it’s not just a “Shotgun Approach”, go get a bunch of candidates and submit them. But it’s learning how to interview these people and how to figure out who they are and what they’re good at and what kind of environment, what kind of culture they thrive in. Because some people are gonna thrive in small companies, some people medium size, some large companies. It’s, you know, it’s just some people need a lot of autonomy. Some people, I need a lot of guidance. So first thing is we spend a lot of time studying books. So we’ll pick a book and we’ll go through it some really good material. And like right now we’re using Lou Adler’s book and so we study that. We’d go through it. Yeah. Usually once a week, sometimes twice a month. Just to make sure that we’re experts at what we do. So I think that’s really cool.
Brad Wolff: 11:00
So training the Recruiting Staff on how to really know your candidates below the surface of what they’d be a good fit for or not. So when you’re recommending people, it’s got a much higher rate of working out well with the client.
Tony Bishop: 11:18
Yeah! I mean I think that’s our obligation. If they hire us, then we should be experts at what we do. And the only way to become an expert at anything is to study it and it never stops.
Brad Wolff: 11:34
Yeah! Ongoing! And I want to highlight this point, Tony, because I know having been in the Staffing Recruiting Business for 25 years myself, that is not something that most firms do. You are unique in that and it offers a real value to your client and the success of your employees. So what else comes to mind as a key thing that makes your firm unique? Tony?
Tony Bishop: 11:59
Well, I mean the other part I think that really makes it unique is the niches we serve. And because we have been in this space for 20 plus years and I grew up in it. And then some of the recruiters also, you know, have come from that space cause some of my senior guys that were VP’s of Fortune 500 Companies and so they’ve joined may as well. So I think the expertise, the knowledge that we have is a certainly a value because some of this stuff is, and you now, I mean every niche you’re in, I mean there’s so many nuances that you just don’t pick that up overnight. I mean, you have to have some kind of understanding of knowledge about the industry. And so to me it’s a, you know, it’s kind of a given, you know, I want to work in niches where I know and I can advise and help and partner with my clients. So I’d say that’s probably, you know the expertise in the niche is to make credible.
Brad Wolff: 13:05
That’s a big deal because a generalist doesn’t know what they don’t know. So they don’t realize some of the nuances of that industry that are important to determine who is, who are the right candidates and where to find them and how to determine if they really are a fit. They’re not going to know that you have, they’re going to think that they get it because they have some key words on a resume. So that I want to, you know, emphasize that really is a big point, a value to your clients. Anything else that comes to mind that you feel makes your organization unique?
Tony Bishop: 13:41
Well, and I do want to kind of touch point, why don’t you said there too, because it is true that a lot of generalists will, you know, they’ll go out and they’ll post jobs on the internet, they’ll get candidates coming in. And because I don’t know the niche, you know, they don’t understand if a candidate is really qualified and then what happens is those candidates get passed to the hiring manager and the hiring manager has a stack of 50 resumes that they’re expected to go through. And the problem with that is, and as you know, I mean every manager out there that works for a company, I mean they’re working 60 hours, some of them 80 hours already, just trying to hit numbers, achieve goals and increase productivity, whatever they do. And then you add on top of that, Hey, here’s 50 resumes I need for you to go through here and pick the ones that you want.
Brad Wolff: 14:33
Well I do my job for me?
Tony Bishop: 14:35
Yeah! I know I need some help. Would you do my job? Yeah! It’s just not fair to that to the hiring managers. And they get frustrated with that whole process. And so, you know, I say our part is to high deliver 3 or 4 good candidates that are right on the money so that the hiring manager, all they had to decide is, Hey, who’s a better fit for me? And to me that’s a huge value.
Brad Wolff: 14:58
Absolutely! And then is there anything else you do with respect to helping the clients be on placements?
Tony Bishop: 15:07
You know, one thing that we always, we always do is that we do an on-boarding piece also. And so, because I always tell people when we’re negotiating contracts and people say, Hey, wash your candidate guarantee. You know, you hear that all the time.
Tony Bishop: 15:22
That’s just one of the, one of the components of negotiating an agreement and 90 days is typical for a contingency search. I mean sometimes on a retained search we’ll do six months or 12 months just depending on the level of search. But I always tell people, listen, I know it’s a question we, you have to ask, I have to answer, but to me, success for us is an employee who’s top producer, you know, a president’s club winner or somebody who know, excels what they’re doing gets a good review every year and they’re with you long term. That’s how we measure our success. It’s almost like the 90 days in recruiting is like a minimum. Like recruiters celebrate on 91st day. I got my money, I don’t have to pay it back as I, yeah. To me I tell my recruiters do not.
Brad Wolff: 16:13
I never thought that person would last that long. We got lucky this time!
Tony Bishop: 16:17
And that does, I mean, that’s, Hey, recruiting, you know, I mean, there’s a lot of bad apples in recruiting who just want to get the money and I don’t want to add any value. They’re out there hustling and they don’t care. And as I was in two decades in the business, I really do care about my reputation and not just that, I just feel as a person that I want to add value to people I want to do, I want to treat them right. And to me it just feels bad. So if somebody calls me, I say, Hey, listen, if you caught me on the 89th day and say, listen, I don’t know if this person’s going to work out or not because I really haven’t had a chance to really see him in action. I need a little bit more time.
Tony Bishop: 16:58
If they’re communicating with me, I give them time. I said, okay, Hey listen, I want to make sure you’re happy. So we give them time. But along the 90 day period to what we do is we interact with the hiring manager and the, and the candidate. And we are a, we’re still liaison between the two of them because sometimes it can, it knows us so well during that whole process of placing them. Cause you know, I mean how many times do you talk to somebody before you apply some tons. So what we do is we tell the candidate, we call the candidate, how’s it going? And a lot of times we’ve had it, we’ve had things come up where people say, yeah, you know what? I like the company but you know what they told me that was, I got a brand new company car and my worst nightmare came through. I gotta use car and not a big deal, but the person was a smoker and I can’t stand that, you know, or something, you know,
Brad Wolff: 17:50
These things may sound a little, they can be a big deal, especially because it’s the difference that the expectation was a new car.
Tony Bishop: 17:58
Well, and Brad that’s exactly what it was. I can’t. The lady said, Hey listen, I probably could deal with the smoke, but it was in this Area Vice President told me that I get a brand new car and that was just part of the deal. And so I called Area Vice President and I told him, he goes, Tony, not a big deal. He said let me call Fleet Management. I didn’t really, I didn’t keep up with that and follow up with it. And so yeah, this candidate got a new car, was happy. The Area VP said, “Hey, I’m sorry I didn’t realize this was happening” but they didn’t have a relationship close enough at that point in time. No to communicate like that together.
Brad Wolff: 18:40
Right! Because you know, you don’t want to seem like some ungrateful diva that you got a car but Oh! It wasn’t the car I wanted.
Tony Bishop: 18:45
Brad Wolff: 18:46
These are real value added because the transition period can be rocky and you can help smooth that over because people can share with you what’s going on that they’re not sure how to share with their direct employer.
Tony Bishop: 18:58
Brad Wolff: 18:58
Or with the candidate. So Tony, would you share any particular failure or obstacle, a failure you’ve had or obstacle you’ve overcome that’s been pivotal to your success?
Tony Bishop: 19:12
Yeah! I have one that’s a pretty drastic, to tell you the truth. I’m trying to think how long ago, well, it’s probably 7 years, maybe 8 years ago. I still had, at the time I probably had 20 recruiters. I was buying out my partner that told you who brought me into the business and trying to, and great person, good friend of mine still. And so I was getting ready to obviously do all the financials, buy him out. So I had some of the senior people that worked for me that I’d actually brought in trained, taught them the industry. They were not industry experts had two or three of those people come to me, no one that I was going through this process and negotiating with them and actually came to me and actually kind of held me over the barrel and said, Hey listen no, we won’t be partners in the company. And I said, okay, Hey, I’m putting up at the time because as you know, recruiting businesses, banks don’t like service oriented companies, so there’s no capital come take a view to fall on a loan.
Brad Wolff: 20:16
I was getting if you’re a full time placement. If you had a fleet of contractors out that’d be different. Well that kind of placement will exactly it’s much harder to get loan on.
Tony Bishop: 20:24
Yeah! So I did an SBA Loan and they took everything I owned as collateral. I mean everything, everything that could get their hands on to give me the loan. But they did give me the loan and then I had three people who are top producers who came to me and wanted to be part of it. I said, okay, sure. I mean this is what I’m paying. This would be your percent. Oh no, we don’t put any money in. There’s going to be partners.
Brad Wolff: 20:52
I would love that deal too! Let me be when I can sign up with that one.
Tony Bishop: 20:55
Yeah! And I think it was, you know, maybe a little bit of Hey, now we know he’s got this note and he’s a B. And so I said, no thanks. You know, if you want to put money in fun, I’ve got my everything on the line for this business, I can’t do that. And so they left. And so I lost three or four key people all at one time.
Brad Wolff: 21:20
Well, that’s part of the value of paying for it. So basically the value was less after you bought it.
Tony Bishop: 21:26
Yeah! Well here’s, here’s the thing though. You know what? I had trained those people, they were up and comers and I trained them, gave them a chance. They’d never had made this kind of money, taught them the business. And so, you know what, “Hey, I left. I don’t hold that against them anymore”. But I mean at that time it was like, okay, now what are you going to do and say, Hey, I did what I always did. I just, I would close my back, you know, I started coming in earlier, staying late started rebuilding my team. And we had a drop probably for six months and then the business started growing exponentially. And I was back to well, I mean obviously you succeeded that, I mean we’ve had great years of growth over the last 3 or 4 years. So, but it was, it was just one of those situations, you know, I don’t know how you would avoid it, but I think it, it made me stronger from a standpoint of my belief system now is there’s nothing that can happen here that I can’t handle. I feel like I can handle anything.
Brad Wolff: 22:27
That helped you in the long run, but it sure wasn’t what you wanted at the time that had happened?
Tony Bishop: 22:32
Yeah! I feel like I can handle anything that comes my way and you know, mainly from that. So I really don’t stress out.
Brad Wolff: 22:42
Tony Bishop: 22:43
Stuff like that.
Brad Wolff: 22:44
So as we’re winding this down, Tony, what websites, books, or other things would you like to tell the audience about?
Tony Bishop: 22:52
Oh gosh! I am a self-development freak. So I’m Tony Robbins. I’ve always, I mean, I’ve watched him for 30 years now. So Tony Robbins, I love his stuff. I think it really is just good on “How to run your mind”, “How to be happy”, “How to be successful”. Just so I watch him mainly for probably, you know, the guy that I go to the most. I’ve read all his books. I like “No Rich Dad, Poor Dad”. I started using that when I first got into recruiting and didn’t have any cash flow to have a passive income. And so I’ll learn from him.
Brad Wolff: 23:33
So you didn’t have a rich dad that handed you money?
Tony Bishop: 23:35
Brad Wolff: 23:36
So Rich Dad? Poor Dad? One of them would apply, right?
Tony Bishop: 23:40
Yeah! Poor Dad had a good dad, but he just this didn’t know, you know, how to make money. And so yeah. So I had to use the books to kinda teach me how to generate a passive income stream. And so I’ve done that, you know, over the years. And so I have Real Estate Investments that I have from Rich Dad, Poor Dad. And so those are probably the 2 that I’ve used the most!
Brad Wolff: 24:04
How about your website? What is your website Tony?
Tony Bishop: 24:06
Website is “Connexis Search Group dot com”. So I know there’s a lot.
Brad Wolff: 24:13
So spell if you would spell Connexis.
Tony Bishop: 24:16
Okay! Connexis is C O N N E X I S then the word Search Group dot com.
Brad Wolff: 24:28 Terrific! Tony, thank you so much! This has been extremely informative and I’ve learned a heck of a lot with your explanations of what you do and your philosophy. So I really appreciate you taking the time to be on the show.
Tony Bishop: 24:44 Oh Brad! Hey, I’m honored and appreciate you offering this platform as well.
Brad Wolff: 24:50 Absolutely!