Today marks VanderHouwen’s 30th anniversary. We’ve come a long way in three decades—we’ve grown significantly, captured a critical market, and have forged lasting relationships we know will continue for years to come. In honor of today, we wanted to pay homage to our past, present, and future. Here’s to another 30 years (and many more)!
Our history and Kirby VanderHouwen’s legacy
VanderHouwen has always been a family company. My father, Kirby VanderHouwen, started the company in December of 1987. After many years working in the corporate sector, he decided to branch out to start a staffing agency of his own—he had a vision of what he wanted recruiting to look like, and a vast network of loyal contacts who trusted and respected him.
My mother, Kathy VanderHouwen (who also came from the corporate sector), joined him. They were a partnership—Kirby focused his efforts on making permanent placements in the Portland area, and Kathy supported running the business from the administrative end.
I joined the company in 1992. My background was in recruiting as well, focusing primarily on contract placements. Together, we were a team—my father Kirby focused his efforts on making permanent placements, while I continued to find valuable contractors to fulfill our client’s needs. At this time, we were a small, but powerful agency and were making a name for ourselves.
My dad eventually became ill, and in 1997, I took over the company. As I took the reigns of VanderHouwen, I was determined to find growth—growth in our staff, in the number of placements we made, and in our client base. And, we succeeded! VanderHouwen’s progression was fast and furious. My father passed in 2005, and during that time we were making more placements than ever before. We grew from 35 to 60 contractors in a matter of two months.
I know that Kirby would be proud to see what we’ve achieved today—we’ve expanded to new locations, added new divisions, and we grew from a handful of internal employees to 65 core members and hundreds of contractors. We have client relationships that Kirby formed at VanderHouwen’s founding that we still have today. And, most importantly, we’ve fostered a truly special company culture—one that values our people and cherishes our community. It’s an amazing success.
The single biggest contributing factor to our growth and success was—and always has been—the quality of our people. In the early 2000s, we made a handful of new hires—hires who are still with us today, who’ve grown tremendously in the years that they’ve been with us, and who are now core members of VanderHouwen’s leadership and operations teams.
I’m so proud of what this team has achieved and want to thank them for their dedication to VanderHouwen for all these years. Their roles have evolved and grown significantly since the time they began working for us—from recruiters to account managers to executive staff—and that’s all due to their work ethic, diligence, and networking ability.
At VanderHouwen, we always strive to hire those who are self-sufficient, self-motivated and don’t need managing. Our whole staff is a team of proactive go-getters who get things done, and I’m so proud to call them all my family. Here’s to you, VanderHouwen team!
► Making the Portland Business Journal Fastest-Growing Private Companies We’ve had the honor of making this list on 8 separate occasions—and it’s a tough list to be on, filled with the brightest, cutting-edge companies in Portland’s private sector. We’ve been in some great company.
► Hitting $50 million in revenue. This was a huge, unexpected achievement for us—we grew from $30 million to $50 million in revenue within a year. It’s a testament to the quality of our staff and their expertise in their industry.
► Our long-lasting client relationships. We’re proud to say that we’ve had clients that have been in 30-year-long partnerships with us. We value their trust in our capabilities, and we’re so happy to have been able to find them the right candidates that meet their needs and help their success.
► Our staff’s personal success. This one is a personal highlight of mine, but I have found such joy in seeing our staff grow and achieve great things. Whether it’s buying a car, investing in a home, or starting a family, I feel so proud of what our team has accomplished in their years with us.
What’s next for VanderHouwen
Our goal is simple—to keep up the momentum! We want to continue to maintain all of the great relationships we’ve built over the last 30 years with both clients and candidates. We want to continue to dominate the Portland market, and we’re also striving for increased growth at our Seattle branch. Our vision for the future is more success, happy staff, and fulfilled clients and candidates. What more could we ask for?
What a great 30 years it’s been! If you’re interested in hearing more about our recent achievements, take a look back on 2016.