Dustin and Diane Kellow
Diane and Dustin Kellow are the proud owners of Durham Recruiting, one of the highest-rated recruitment firms across the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). Located in Oshawa, Ontario, Durham Recruiting has disrupted the recruitment industry with their fresh new storytelling approach. This approach allows them to recruit for any position across any industry. Their dedicated nine-member team has signed over 150-plus business agreements reaching over $5 million in sales in their first three years of operation. Moreover, in 2019, they were named the fastest-growing HR startup company in Canada, an impressive 15th overall, by Canadian Business Magazine.
From the start, Diane and Dustin interviewed several businesses to better understand their experiences with local staffing agencies. It was clear they were tired of the “sea of sameness,” as all staffing agencies modeled their approach to be transactional, not personal, and high-volume, low-quality candidates. Their strategy was simple. Build a best-in-class recruitment process named The Kellow ApproachTM that goes deep into the understanding of both the business and candidate, then match based on several shared traits that goes beyond the résumé.
“Our methodology is simple. We listen, develop, and customize our recruitment strategy to attract and target relevant candidates. We take a very different approach to interviewing, allowing us to get the info we need without the candidate being the wiser, then play matchmaker based on a number of different factors. It’s almost like dating,” Diane Kellow muses.
From the start, Dustin and Diane knew building the “right” team would become the most important factor of their business success. To ensure the success of the recruitment process and to maintain ongoing relationships, they only hire team members with extensive business experience, smart and genuinely care. In short, “we want people who give a shit,” laughs Dustin. During training, each team member learns and lives Durham’s mission statement: “Our bottom line is important, but our clients’ return on investment is most important.”
The team’s dedication to personal service has resonated throughout the region and was recently made evident as they are one of only a few companies in North America to ever achieve a perfect +100% Net Promoter Score from clients, according to Clearly Rated NPS client satisfaction measurements. They also scored an NPS score of +93% as provided by candidates, which is over 48% higher versus the industry average.
“We are extremely proud of our amazing team who day in and day out work hard to provide exceptional experiences for our partners and candidates,” Dustin says.
The real magic is how the Kellow ApproachTM was designed for consistency, so each candidate receives the same experience, regardless of position. While every recruitment project follows each stage in the process, it is dynamic, allowing for nuance and personalized discussions. Their interviewing techniques contrast the industry, as they do not take the typical linear approach asking common questions that interviewees have canned responses for. Dustin’s years of conducting qualitative research (interview techniques: focus groups, town halls, one-on-ones, etc.) combined with Diane’s years of a conversational approach to recruitment allows the team to unearth key insights about candidates in a very indirect way.
Although rigorous, involving a 45- to 60-minute phone discussion, cognitive and personality assessments, and one- to two-hour in-person discussion, candidates buy in. People love the way they interview because it does not feel like usual format, as it is more like two people having a beer. Right from the beginning every candidate is provided an explanation of the process, communicated with at every step of the way receiving the same level of respect regardless of the role. Candidates understand the end goal is to provide a presented comprehensive profile to the client consisting of four to six pages that cover several elements showcasing why they are a fit. Employers love it because it enables them to already feel they know the person before they even meet them.
Diane and Dustin dreamed of one day owning a business within their community. Prior to starting Durham, Diane demonstrated a talent for working with people in both sales and customer service. Then, when a family friend in the recruiting industry offered to mentor her, she worked with them for four years, but disliked focusing on numbers and conducting short, superficial interviews. She enjoyed recruiting but wanted a more personal approach. Meanwhile, Dustin’s love of business and strategy led him to start a career in the marketing and strategy field, working in several countries and with some of the largest companies in the world.
The couple experienced their “ah-ha moment” in late 2016, when Dustin came home from work and heard on a phone call that Diane was speaking to a candidate who she had placed at a local company who was in tears of joy. She had a diverse background and other agencies had skipped over her, and she was so grateful that Diane had actually taken the time to really get to know her and matched her with a perfect company. She is still there today! After much discussion, Dustin and Diane took their individual strengths, did their research, and developed a best-in-class recruitment process. What began as just the two of them working out of their basement soon grew into a large office space in downtown Oshawa and is now one of the most successful startup recruitment firms in Canada.
Dustin and Diane also believe in giving back to their community by rolling up their sleeves and getting involved. They and their team members support numerous organizations, environmental efforts, fundraisers, and community programs while remaining active on all chamber of commerce and boards of trade within Durham.
Dustin and Diane Kellow
LinkedIn: Dustin Kellow │Durham Recruiting
Canadian Business Annual Rankings: https://www.canadianbusiness.com/lists-and-rankings/growth-500/2019-ranking-startup-50/