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New High Point staffing firm tries to fill a need

Jan. 4—HIGH POINT — It wasn't happenstance when Kendra Clabo opened the office for her new company in the Piedmont Centre business park among some of High Point's largest employers.

The founder and CEO of staffing firm EmployHQ, she's surrounded by a client base of manufacturing and distribution companies looking for workers.

These are technically her customers, but, having worked in just about every role in the staffing industry, Clabo said her company offers a headquarters of sorts for job seekers as well.

"HQ feels like, to me, 'This is your stop. This is where you want to be,' " she said. "I think sometimes, if there's nothing in the name to say, 'We're helping employ people,' you lose opportunities. I wanted the name to say something about what we do."

Clabo has had a close connection to the staffing industry since she was a child.

"I grew up in the staffing industry," she said. "My mom started a light industrial staffing firm when I was 5, so, really, I've spent my whole life in the industry."

After graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill, she started with a large staffing firm in Charlotte, and, over 16 years in the industry, she filled roles in recruiting and sales, as well as managing temporary workforces on-site for clients.

She switched to business consulting for a couple of years, but during the coronavirus pandemic, she found herself drawn back to the industry.

"A lot of former colleagues and customers got caught up in layoffs when COVID hit, so I tried to help out, and I was able to get about nine people placed (in jobs), mostly in the (human resources) space," she recalled. "When you've done something for a long time and you're passionate about it, it's really a natural fit."

The idea for EmployHQ gained momentum as companies started to face hiring and retention challenges during the pandemic.

So far, Clabo has focused on serving clients in need of managerial and other salaried positions.

"We are primarily focused in the manufacturing/distribution space," she said. "There's definitely a shortage of workers. It's not just because of wages but, really, companies are looking at their culture and talking to employees about what's important to them, in terms of flexibility and scheduling needs."

Currently, EmployHQ specializes in direct hiring, placing employees with companies full time. Clabo said she intends to add temporary and seasonal hiring services for hourly positions starting in April.

In addition, she said her past experiences working with job candidates informed her decision to launch her company.

"If a candidate has a great experience, that translates into a customer," she said. "My mom used to tell me that people are very vulnerable when they're looking for work. Maybe they've got bills to pay, a family to feed. That's not an easy place to be."

A Mount Airy native, Clabo is married to Tyson Clabo, a former NFL offensive tackle. They have four children and live in Mount Airy, where they own a cattle farm.