35 years in the making: Q&A with Morgan Hunter CEO Jerry Hellebusch

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It all started with three guys, a few desks and many, many cold calls. Recruiting looked very different 35 years ago and so did Morgan Hunter.  In 1986 our goal was to personalize an impersonal industry, focusing on building strong relationships with clients and jobseekers, instead of being a “resume clearinghouse,” like many other recruiting firms. We are proud to celebrate 35 years of finding the right fit for job candidates and businesses, creating long-standing relationships along the way. In honor of our anniversary, we sat down with founder Jerry Hellebusch to look back over the last 35 years, hear the story behind the name, review Morgan Hunter’s growth over the years and to take in some of Jerry’s most valuable advice.

Q: How did you become the founder of Morgan Hunter? 

A: I started in the industry in November 1979. I worked for a company called Professional Career Development until April of ’86, and after sitting out the six-month, non-compete contract, opened my own firm on October 26, 1986. Initially I rented space in Financial Plaza in Overland Park, Kansas, and hired two people. We just butted three desks together and started making phone calls, and then just built from there.


Q: Where did the name Morgan Hunter come from?

A: We were looking for a generic and simple yet memorable name, and it took a long time to land on one. We knew we wanted to include “Hunter” as a subtle nod to what we do. “Morgan” just sounded good with it. Since it’s a generic name, we don’t get screened nearly as much when we call into some place. It’s simple and easy to say and spell. I’m glad we picked a name that has worked so well over the years.


Q: What’s one thing that has surprised you since you first started this company?

A: So many things have changed over the years. If you think about it, the internet was born after we started Morgan Hunter. So that changed our industry a great deal. Our industry used to be very, very much of a phone-calling business, and we had to make a lot of cold calls. You don’t have to do that as much anymore. That’s probably the biggest change I’ve seen.


Q: How is your job different from when you first started Morgan Hunter?

A: I actually used to be on the front lines, making placements, developing clients and that sort of thing. There came a point in time where I had to decide that I either wanted to work in my business or work on my business. If I wanted to work in my business, I was going to have to hire a boss. Even though I always enjoyed making placements, I enjoyed doing deals, I had to step away from that and kind of play boss, I guess you could say. That’s the way you scale up. If you don’t do that, you just stay the same size.


Q: If you had to describe the last 35 years in one word for Morgan Hunter, what would you choose?

A: Fast. It went by in a hurry. Incredible. I never thought about this milestone in business when I first started, that was so far off. It never occurred to me. It never crossed my mind, but it went by fast. And fun. Obviously, there’s always some downsides, but I can’t think of anything I’d rather have done. So, I’m consider myself very fortunate.


Q: If you could, what would you go back and tell yourself 35 years ago?

A: Have a better plan in place then. When you’re young, you tend to wing it a little bit. I’d tell myself to have more of a growth plan so our growth would happen by design rather than by chance. Because a lot of it was by chance. Don’t just take advantage of opportunities when they come, instead create those opportunities.


Q: What is one piece of advice that you’re always giving your recruiters?

A: Don’t let the highs be too high and don’t let the lows be too low because you’re going to come back both directions. Try to level off your emotions. What I try to tell people is, closing deals should be an interruption of your day. Generating new business should be the purpose of your day. And if you do that, you don’t feel the highs and lows. Then, you don’t have the extreme emotion swings because this business can drive you crazy if you let it.


Q: Why is Morgan Hunter the best choice for recruiting here in Kansas City?

A: We have the most tenured staff in Kansas City and the best staff. We have people from 25 years on down. In our business, tenure is key. Knowing your market, having relationships is key. Our recruiters are able to find the best candidates in the shortest amount of time for our clients, and they have faith in us that we will deliver because we always have. If you’re brand new to the industry, you can’t do that.


What we do impacts one of the most important things in a person’s life: their job or their business. Our candidates win when we help find them a job; our clients win because they’re getting talent to help grow their company and we win because we continue to make an impact on local communities. With 35 years of established relationships in the Kansas City area, our recruiters can help place qualified candidates in accounting and financeadministrationhuman resourcesinformation technologysales, marketing and operations, education and healthcare IT, and can connect employers with candidates to find the right fit for every role. Visit our website to learn more about the history of Morgan Hunter or to reach our recruiters during your next job search.