Originally created 01/25/02

Dropout's business booms



Ryan Schadel opened a new personnel service, The Labor Depot, in October at the corner of Ninth and Broad streets. A second branch is set to open Feb. 4 - a scant four months later - in Columbia.

Not bad for a 24-year-old college dropout.

His plan is to open 128 branches in the next two years and, as a C corporation, get listed on the New York Stock Exchange within five years.

Even more incredible - he believes he can do it.

"It's an ambitious goal, but I believe it can be done," Mr. Schadel said. "The biggest challenge isn't finding the money to do this - it's finding the people. You have to have a team that backs you 110 percent, or it won't happen."

The assembled board of directors includes labor industry insiders, information technology, data management and software development experts and finance professionals.

But by all accounts this is Mr. Schadel's baby; he engineered the concept and brought the people together. He is not surprised by where he is, even though the road he took was unconventional.

Mr. Schadel dropped out of Kennesaw State University in 1995 after three quarters as a banking and finance major.

He was going to get rich.

He quit school to join the Coffee & Bakery Express, owned by a couple of millionaires with notions of big-time franchising.

The business went under shortly afterward, so the Burke County native came home in December 1997. A two-year stint in the loan industry at Chase Mortgage ended when interest rates rose and business dried up.

So he got on as a sales representative with a personnel service, Labor Ready. In two weeks he was promoted to manager of an underperforming branch that had $4,000 a week in sales and was about to be closed.

In less than a year, the branch was doing $50,000 a week.

In his first full year, he turned a $98,000 profit. In the first 10 months of 2001, before he left the company, his branch turned a $140,000 profit - the second-highest net profit percentage out of 800 Labor Ready stores nationwide.

He had found his niche.

"I'd been there two years, beat all these records, had zero turnover, recruited great people, thought I did everything right to become a district manager," Mr. Schadel said. "That year they promoted six of them - and I wasn't one."

So he began to research building his own personnel company. Shortly afterward he created The Labor Depot.

"I wanted to be a district manager," he said. "So I decided to create my own district and do it myself."

Reach John Bankston at (706) 823-3352 or john.banks@augustachronicle.com.