Randy Hatcher has some big shoes to fill, and he's rising to the challenge.
The president of MAU Workforce Solutions Inc., which stands for Management, Analysis and Utilization, took the reigns of his father's company nine years ago, and he is achieving significant results.
Last year, MAU had revenues in excess of $100 million. The downtown Augusta company has expanded to 11 locations nationwide, including Georgia, South Carolina and Illinois.
Though he's the boss, he prefers his employees call him "Randy," rather than "Mr. Hatcher."
"I'll probably correct people once or twice a month. I tell them, 'My dad is Mr. Hatcher,' " Randy said.
His father, Bill Hatcher, who remains the CEO of MAU, still comes to work every day. He started the company in 1973 with only $500 in capital and a dream of owning his own business.
When his sons graduated from college, they joined their father at the small, growing business, which specialized in professional recruiting. Today, the company has expanded its services to include commercial staffing, human resource services and outsourcing.
Bill's oldest son, Billy, who worked at the company for 25 years, said his father is a visionary.
"My dad is a phenomenal man. He took risks in areas that nobody else was willing to take risks in," Billy said.
In 1974, Bill asked employers to pay the fee for clerical workers, which was unheard of in those days.
"People thought he was crazy," Billy said. "This was sort of a new thing to pay a fee for a secretary or clerical person. Prior to that, the employee paid the fee. It's startling to think now that you had to pay a fee to get a job, but that's the way it was."
Randy said his father is his hero in many ways, but especially for the way he handled the details of his business.
"A lot of patriarchs go to their grave without settling the issue of the business between siblings. My dad, brother and I worked that out in 1999," he said. "I'm really grateful for that."
Billy moved on to pursue his own software business and today works in real estate development.
"I'm very proud of Randy and what he's been able to do with MAU. He's a fine Christian man, and he's got a lot of good leadership abilities," Billy said. "He cares a lot for people. That is one of the reasons for his success."
Bill Hatcher grew up in Birmingham, Ala., during the Depression era and his family was extremely poor.
"My mother was a housewife. My father was a drunk," Bill said.
His mother, Billie, did her best to care for him and his siblings. His father, James, didn't work regularly, so his family had to rely on government assistance.
"I remember as a child that I would slip down to the grocery store and wait in the alley to make sure there was no one in the store, so I could go in and use food stamps," Bill said.
At age 13, he got a job as a "printer's devil," cleaning ink off printing presses. After high school, Bill joined the Navy, where he served stateside during World War II.
"My biggest break, in more ways than one, was going into the Navy in 1943. If I hadn't gotten the GI Bill, I would have never gone to college," he said.
The GI Bill provided him with $75 per month to care for his wife, Marion, and newborn son, Billy, plus tuition and books.
Bill attended the University of Alabama and majored in business administration.
"I'm the only one in my family, as far back as my grandfather, who graduated from college," Bill said. And he is proud that all of his children and grandchildren have either graduated from college or are in their last year of studies.
Bill was an entrepreneur before he earned his college diploma. During his freshman year, he opened Hatcher's Rent-A-Bike Shop in Tuscaloosa, Ala. He also operated an ice cream business.
Today, he makes copies of old business fliers and gives them to his grandchildren to remind them of his courage to dream.
After graduation, he sold the businesses and moved to Birmingham, where he found a job as a wage and salary analyst for the Army, a position that taught him the aspects of labor relations, safety, training and employment.
Bill later landed a job with Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corp. as a human resources professional. He was transferred to Augusta in 1963 to help start Columbia Nitrogen Corp.
A decade later, he took his leap of faith and started his own professional recruiting firm in an office that measured 8 feet by 10 feet.
"It was just big enough for a $25 desk and a rented roll-top copier," Bill said.
He couldn't afford to hire any employees, so his wife, Marion, worked as his secretary.
One year later, Billy, who earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Augusta College, joined his father at the business.
They launched several divisions of the company, such as Ms. Power, an office services division, and Mr./Ms. Temps.
Dr. Daniel McCall, the minister emeritus of Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church, has known the Hatchers for 33 years. He said Bill was "self-disciplined, responsible and mature beyond his age.
"He was very frugal and very wise. He lived within his means and tightened his belt in order to be able to invest and build the company," he said.
The business grew slowly, and Randy joined the company in 1978 after graduating from the University of Georgia with a degree in speech communication.
He chose his major because it was recommended for two possible career paths: human resources and pre-law.
He seriously considered attending law school until he was walking across campus one night around 10 or 11 p.m. He looked over at the law school and saw people studying, which he certainly wasn't accustomed to doing at those hours.
"I kind of convinced myself that wasn't what I was supposed to do, so I took the other path," Randy said. "Fortunately, there was an opportunity for me here, so I came straight into the family business. I graduated on Saturday, and I was working on Monday."
The extra mile
Randy, the youngest of Bill's children, has fond memories of his childhood with his parents and siblings, Pam and Billy.
"We were a middle-class family growing up. Life was pretty simple," Randy said. "We ate mashed potatoes, country steak and pot pies."
His father had a strong work ethic, which Randy said has greatly influenced his own professional career.
"I realized at a young age, generally speaking, the people who got ahead in life were the people who were willing to make tough decisions and work a little harder," he said.
When he joined his father's company, he would work extra time after hours to get ahead. As a young professional, he received advice from a consultant.
"He said 'There's no traffic jam at the extra mile.' It kind of gave me something to shoot for," Randy said.
His first job at his dad's company was working as an interviewer, interviewing secretaries all day long.
"It was a great job for a single guy," Randy said. "I did have scruples about my profession and my life. I had a policy back then that I wouldn't date anyone whom I was trying to help find a job."
The woman who became his wife came in for a job interview the summer between her junior and senior years in college. He interviewed her for a job and decided to call her a few weeks later -- to ask her if she'd like to go waterskiing. They were married in 1979.
That same year, the company entered the commercial staffing business and started finding employment for industrial, skilled and semi-skilled workers. Two major contracts moved the staffing business to the next level.
"We were fortunate to get our first big international contract with Aramco in 1980," Randy said.
Aramco was one of the world's largest oil corporations. MAU placed roughly 100 professionals and their families in Saudi Arabia, working as engineers, chemists, production and maintenance supervisors and medical personnel.
Billy was in awe that his father actually landed the contract. "It was a contract that, frankly, I thought we would never get. He worked on it all the time."
"Bill is a very savvy businessman. He can make good decisions based on the numbers, but he also has the ability to work extremely well with people," said Bill Thompson, the executive vice president of Queensborough National Bank & Trust Co. "He should be commended for beginning one of the biggest companies in Augusta."
The company's second major accomplishment was landing a large temporary assignment with E-Z-Go, who remains a client today. Previously, companies only used a few temporary employees at a time, but MAU had to provide 25.
Money was tight before the successes. Bill would often pay his sons on Friday and ask them to wait until the banking day closed at 3 p.m. to cash their checks. Because of the delay, the checks wouldn't hit the bank until Monday.
"We learned how to save money and be conservative. I think that's helped us today," Randy said.
Though the business celebrated its major international contract, they faced challenges on the home front in 1980.
The Hatchers lost a large contract with Savannah River Site because it was taken away and given to a minority firm. Bill knew that his grandfather was full-blooded Native American, but he "never really thought anything more about it," Randy said.
When clients heard what had happened, they encouraged him to apply for minority-owned business certification.
They researched the certification and were able to receive nationwide and state certification as a minority-owned business in Georgia and South Carolina.
"It's been very helpful to our clients and business and also helpful to promote the cause of Native Americans when we're able to tell their story," Randy said.
In 1986, the business moved to the New South Building on Bay Street because it had outgrown its space. Three years later, Bill purchased the building at the corner of Fifth and Greene streets.
Most people remember the business as Mr./Ms. Temps rather than MAU, Randy said. The business was officially known as Mr./Ms. Temps until about 1999.
"As our business started to change, we felt like 'temporary' represented a part of what we did, but it was a misnomer. We really wanted our clients to turn to us to help them hire full-time employees and for solutions with outsourcing," Randy said.
In 1999, the Hatcher men decided to go their separate ways. Bill wasn't ready to retire, but he wanted to take a step back after working for 50 years. Billy wanted to start his own software business and Randy preferred to take on the responsibility of operating the company.
"My father transitioned some of his ownership of the company. I became the majority owner," Randy said.
Billy is grateful for how his father handled the transaction. They consulted with their attorney, CPA and other people in the industry to get an objective view of what the business was worth.
"We sat down, talked about it and worked it out. My brother got what he wanted for his interest in the stock. We hugged each other and cried together and were thankful for the years that we had worked together," Randy said.
Today, the business has locations in Augusta, Waynesboro, Thomson, Athens and LaGrange in Georgia; Aiken, Charleston, Anderson, Spartanburg and Greenville in South Carolina; and Chicago. It has 170 full-time employees and up to 4,300 contract employees.
This year, the company was ranked number 11 on the Staffing Industry Analysts' list of U.S. Women and Minority-Owned Staffing Firms. It has also been honored as one of the fastest-growing private companies in America on the Inc. 5,000 list by Inc . magazine.
Randy said he enjoys "helping a client find someone who changes their business and helping an employee get a great job."
He felt the recruiting and temporary businesses were being commoditized, and companies were looking for the cheapest price for a temporary employee, Randy explained.
"I was concerned for a long time that the profit margins of the business would erode. I wanted a service that would be a higher value to our clients," he said.
MAU has started moving into the roles of managing departments for its clients. Randy has a two-fold strategy for MAU's future.
First, he plans to "grow organically with existing clients in multiple locations around the country." For example, the office in Chicago serves as the corporate headquarters for a client in South Carolina, Robert Bosch Automotive.
MAU also recently landed an account for a company in LaGrange, which will be a one-tier supplier to the new Kia automobile manufacturing plant in Troup County.
Secondly, he will pursue the manufacturing sectors in the Southeast.
"We continue to look for manufacturers who are trying to get control of their costs and find ways to operate and manage their company through a third party," Randy said.
He works to run the company in a way that honors God.
"I think that's unique in this day and time. When people come here, at least they understand the president and chairman of the company are followers of Jesus, and that's who we look to for guidance everyday," Randy said. "I believe there's somebody bigger than me who helps me everyday to make the best decisions in the company."
Rick Allen, the president of R.W. Allen & Associates Inc., sponsored Randy to join the Young Presidents' Organization, which provides education and forums for business professionals worldwide.
His company finds MAU's personality profiles, such as Myers-Brigg, to be helpful and administers the test to all potential hires, he said.
"I just like the way he runs his business. He's very concerned for the welfare of his people," Mr. Allen said. "Randy has a very strong faith. He carries those values right through his business."
Randy is a lover of golf and University of Georgia football.
The diehard fandom is "almost obnoxious," said his best friend Rick Spires, who has known Randy since middle school.
Mr. Spires said his friend has incredible integrity.
"A lot of times, he has to do things that are unpopular, but he'll do them because he knows they're the right thing to do," Mr. Spires said. "Randy's straight up. What you see is what you get."
Bill's wife, Marion, suffered from Alzheimer's disease in the last years of her life. To honor her memory, Bill purchased the historic Phinizy home, which is located next door to his building on Greene Street.
He restored the house and named it the Marion Hatcher Center. The facility serves as an event center for weddings and receptions.
In his spare time, Bill can be found on his 3,000-acre farm in Burke County. He has 500 cows and grows peanuts, corn, wheat and rye. He even operates Shell Bluff Country Store across the highway from his farm.
"That's my big hobby. A very expensive hobby," Bill said.
Hunting is also one of Bill's passions. He has been on hunting trips in Africa, New Zealand, Europe and throughout the United States. In 2002, he spent seven weeks hunting in Africa.
"We have a game room with all kinds of animals, from leopards, elephants, kudus and a variety of African animals," he said.
Bill has remarried, and he has taught his new wife, Jo Ann, how to hunt. During their trip to Africa, they killed 30 animals -- she got 19 of them.
Reach LaTina Emerson at (706) 823-3227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
BORN: Birmingham, Ala.
TITLE: CEO of MAU Workforce Solutions Inc.
EDUCATION: University of Alabama, bachelor's degree in business administration
FAMILY: Wife, Jo Ann; children, Pam Stuart, Billy, Randy
CIVIC/EXTRACURRICULAR: Salvation Army board member; Boys & Girls Club board member; Kiwanis Club board member; elder at Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church
HOBBIES: Farming, hunting, golf, traveling, flying ultralight planes
BORN: March 7, 1956, in Baton Rouge, La., grew up in Augusta
TITLE: President, MAU Workforce Solutions Inc.
EDUCATION: University of Georgia, bachelor of arts degree in speech communication
FAMILY: Wife, Marilee; children, Adam, Baker and Anne Randall
CIVIC/EXTRACURRICULAR: Young Presidents' Organization, member and president of the YPO Christian Fellowship Network; previous leadership in the following: American Staffing Association, Augusta Technical College, Metro Augusta and Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, Christian Businessmen's Connection of Augusta, Christian Business Men's Connection Southeast Family Conference, Augusta West Rotary and the American Cancer Society
HOBBIES: Golf, snow skiing, wine collecting, teaching business leaders