Issue 3 » Saenger Associates: First Call for Retained Executive Search
By Stephen K. Peeples
“‘We find great people for great companies’ is more than a tagline for us. That’s what we do.”
– Gary Saenger
When Saenger Associates’ corporate clients need to hire qualified top-level executives, founder Gary Saenger and his team of executive recruiters are first-call.
“We’re the proverbial head-hunter that’s on retainer with a company, and work exclusively and confidentially to find the best candidates to fill those positions,” Saenger said in a recent conversation at his company’s Valencia headquarters.
Saenger Associates is especially expert with companies in the industrial and consumer products sectors, and senior-level positions in the manufacturing supply chain with a minimum annual compensation of $100K, but usually at the $200K-250K level.
Son of successful Idaho farmers, Saenger learned the value of hard work early. That served him well in a colorful life that’s included stints in the Air Force spying on the USSR during the Cold War in the mid-1960s; studying for a degree in math and Russian; and earning great success and recognition as a businessman, entrepreneur, philanthropist and community leader.
Currently a board member for the nonprofit SCV Economic Development Corporation and the College of the Canyons Foundation, Saenger has previously served on the boards of the SCV Boys & Girls Club (25 years) and Single Mothers’ Outreach (four years).
He describes himself as a “complete sports nut,” especially for Dodgers baseball and UCLA basketball. As a player, he “hacks around” at golf, and his 190-yard hole-in-one on the 10th hole at Glen Eagles in Scotland in 2006 is certified.
Foremost, though, Saenger is devoted to his family. He and wife Christy, Sand Canyon residents, celebrated their 45th anniversary in November. They’re proud parents of two grown daughters, Ashley and Whitney.
More of our conversation follows:
3W: How do you achieve a 95 percent fill rate? That’s among the highest in your industry.
Saenger: We take a lot of pride in that. We never give up. Bigger firms will bill out and quit. The big boys have a 55 percent fill rate. But Saenger Associates never quits. We stay with the client unless they stop the search. We’re going to get that fill.
But it’s also going to be the right person for the job. When we look at a resume, we know exactly what boxes to check.
We have a one-year guarantee on our placements. We don’t want to do the work over. So, we’re invested in vetting candidates very thoroughly. ‘We find great people for great companies’ is more than a tagline for us. That’s what we do.
3W: Tell us about your Associates.
Saenger: I have the most amazing team. Katherine Hayes has been with me for 15-plus years. Myrna Bell, going on 11 years. Gina Bergren, five years. Daytona Tatman, four years. And Jerald Quizon is my newest member, in 2017.
All we do is retained executive search. We serve some very demanding clients and are responsive in a way that makes our clients look great. I wouldn’t trade my team for anybody.
3W: Your path from your folks’ farm through the Air Force to the business sector to Saenger Associates includes 20-25 years of HR experience. But how did you zero in on executive search?
Saenger: My path in personnel and human resources always included recruiting. Then when I left the generalist HR role, I took a GM position with a consulting organization that was helping people who had lost their jobs decide what to do next. So it was a natural extension to open my own retained executive search firm in 1999.
Today, along with our own local, regional and national search work, we can widen our search to 80 cities in 45 countries through our alliance with IRC Global Executive Search Partners.
Saenger Associates has been connected with IRC since 2008. It has the largest geographical coverage of any executive search firm or alliance. We can serve a local client who has operations in Asia, Europe, North America, South America. That extended reach has been hugely valuable for us to serve our clients better.
3W: Going back to that 95 percent fill rate…
Saenger: It’s about the basics. I had a couple very basic reasons for founding Saenger Associates.
First, to make sure every search has two winners. One must be the corporate client because they pay the fee and have the job. The other must be the candidate, because he or she will do all the work.
The other reason, I wanted very free-flowing and timely communication between everyone. If you’ve done any executive interviews, many times you are never told what the result was. We don’t do it that way. It’s just not right, not the way we should treat people.
We think those things are an important part of why companies call us first, and why we score two winners 95 percent of the time.
28494 Westinghouse Place, Suite 315
Santa Clarita, CA 91355