Sometimes new business endeavors don’t start in the midst of great success but amid a setback. That’s what happened to Kevin Brozovich, owner and operator of HRM Innovations, a human-resource and management company based in Kalamazoo.
Brozovich had worked in human resources for about 20 years when he had a “What now?” moment in 2008. He’d been working at Toyota Group for 11 years and knew that although he was working in multiple capacities, he wanted to continue to grow and become a more dynamic human-resource professional. That’s when an opportunity arose for Brozovich to help start the new Kaiser Aluminum plant in Kalamazoo.
“I always wanted to start from scratch,” he explains. “That’s what pulled me toward Kaiser. Part of it is that I like a challenge, but part of me thought that if I wanted to start from the beginning and do things my way, this would be an ideal opportunity.”
But it wasn’t quite the opportunity Brozovich was hoping for. The recession hit hard right after the plant began operating, and Brozovich watched his fresh start turn into a dead end.
“I tend to be a little too optimistic at times,” he says. “The regional HR director I reported to was let go, two of my peers were let go and HR managers in other plants as well, and I kept thinking I would be fine. Long story short — I wasn’t fine. I found myself unemployed during the recession.”
After Brozovich was laid off from Kaiser in the summer of 2009, his former HR team in Battle Creek took him out to lunch and encouraged him to start his own HR business. They seemed to know that Brozovich didn’t need the perfect position at another manufacturing or supply company but an opportunity to create his own organization.
Brozovich decided to take the plunge. That was August 2009, and even though some advisors he consulted didn’t think there was a market for the services he was proposing to provide, it turned out there was a healthy demand. Although Brozovich didn’t have any customers in the first six weeks, by the fourth quarter of 2009 his earnings matched what he made before being laid off.
HRM Innovations celebrated its fourth year in August and continues to grow at a comfortable rate. Brozovich, who initially set a goal of hiring one person a year, now has six employees and provides HR services for companies such as Bell’s Brewery, The Global Food Protection Institute (GFPI), Gallagher Uniform, Landscape Forms, Getman Corp. and the United Way, to name just a few.
HRM offers three main categories of human-resource and management services to companies — recruiting, training and consulting. Brozovich, together with the five other HRM team members, provides whatever services a company might need, tailoring the consulting, training and recruiting to each company’s specific requirements.
Tania Brammer, the director of people engagement at HRM and the first employee Brozovich hired, says she thinks HRM is successful because it’s the only business of its kind in the area.
“There are other executive recruiters and other consultants, but we’re the whole package,” she says. “I really enjoy variety, so being able to work at a high level with a number of different companies is just absolutely ideal.”
Although many companies have their own HR services, HRM’s clients usually aren’t in need of an entire HR department, Brozovich explains.
“What we find is that with the larger companies, with fully staffed HR departments, it’s more project work and cultural development,” he says. “For the smaller companies, we act as their on-site HR person, since typically HR issues can be taken care of in a small frame of time, like one afternoon a week.”
The companies that HRM works with, Brozovich says, are companies that are already great places to work. That’s what makes his job so much fun, he says.
“We get to work with incredible companies that come to us and say, ‘We want to be even better.’ That’s a tremendous opportunity.”
Helping business leaders succeed in providing a working atmosphere that encourages employees and fosters growth and relationships is what HRM is all about, Brammer says. HRM Innovations is a cut above other HR consulting, recruitment and training firms, she says, because it offers top-down solutions that work.
“A lot of leaders really focus on the bottom line,” Brammer says, “and it’s amazing to see that leaders sometimes don’t understand that if they invest in their people more, even up front, selecting the right people and putting them with the right people, their business will thrive. It’s absolutely mind-boggling how much better a company can be when you focus on helping leaders be better leaders. That’s really where you can make the most impact.”