Ian Martin Group

Connecting people and ideas

The Ian Martin Group believes amazing achievements are made when innovative people connect. The recruiting and placement company, which recently celebrated an admirable 50 years of industry leadership, has a uniquely articulated business mantra: “Building Authentic Connections around Meaningful Work.” Their uncommon mix of corporate values: Stewardship, Entrepreneurship and Authenticity have guided the company through decades of change and evolution in their business and in the staffing industry.

Icon of technical staffing

Over five decades ago, Ian Martin, a University of Toronto-trained electrical engineer started what was initially an Engineering Consulting practice with business partner Mary Masson. They shifted to a staffing model when demand from a primary client suddenly evaporated in a move that exhibits the “entrepreneurial flexibility” that has defined the company to this day.

“In 1962, Martin offered his firm’s consultancy services to Ford Motor Company [in Oakville]. Ford said no to IMG’s consultancy services, but its response opened a door.” What Ford needed—and what IMG supplied—were local technical people to augment the Ford staff team for a year or two, thus starting IMG on the path to becoming an icon of technical staffing.

Today, Vice President John Breininger says, “We have five divisions: IML and IMT provide engineers to the aerospace, automotive, energy, mining and telecom sectors. IMIT connects IT professionals in mostly Fortune 500 type companies. The 500 Staffing partners with HR departments to bring Performance and Personality to recruitment initiatives. Granary is a consulting search group which specializes in helping companies develop uncommon leadership.”

As a staff augmentation service, IMG has taken care of the recruiting and payroll for countless companies, with relationships that go back to the company’s origins.

“Because our founders had a background in engineering, it is natural that we focussed on the engineering space and now have 30 to 40-year relationships with large clients like Ontario Power Generation, General Motors and Bombardier,” adds Tim Masson, Executive Vice President. “Our established relationships in Telecom exist because over time, we became deeply embedded in project delivery and managed services for Nortel Networks (35 years).”

IMG has about 1,200 contractors in the field on a weekly basis, making it one of the largest privately held staffing companies in Canada.

“In addition to our staffing capabilities, we have the ability to deliver projects. We have a team of about 100 engineers who provide services such as Telecom Network Engineering, PCB Layout, Mechanical Design, and Technical Writing. This area of our business seems to be expanding because of the flexible model it provides for our clients,” says Masson.

IMG’s new promo video states that they “Match dreams to inspiration by connecting the right people to the right circumstances at the right time”—something current management takes to heart. “Our contract positions are mutually beneficial for both highly experienced contractors and client companies, because people’s skills and talents are matched up with specific projects,” says Masson.

“When done, that person can move on to another company and help with another interesting project. Professional contractors manage their own careers as independent business people and we simply help facilitate relationships and opportunities for them as they arise.”

Person to person

Although IMG has grown beyond the dreams of its founders Ian Martin and Mary Masson, the company has never lost sight of the fact that its success lies in the positive connection between an employee and employer. In an effort to renew this founding principle, IMG has undertaken a company-wide branding exercise to rearticulate what is important to the company moving into its sixth decade in business.

Focused company goals

“We have spent 18 months gathering input from all of our stakeholders to help us clearly articulate not just what and how we do business, but also why. We were trying to get to the core,” says Masson.

This exemplifies how IMG acts as an organization, rather than a corporation. IMG is as strong as its weakest link, and management understands that the company is the sum of its employee’s energy and participation. With the guidance of The Random Group, IMG worked internally to plan its business strategy, branding and positioning in the market.

“We emerged from this process of evaluation understanding that we have three defining characteristics: authenticity, entrepreneurship and stewardship,” he continues.

Stewardship is a unique characteristic. “The company has always practised good stewardship with distribution of its economic outputs,” says Masson. “Now our challenge is to find innovative ways of practicing stewardship in the course of our day-to-day operations.”

“This practice gives a unified view to the employees, a guiding principal that everybody can go back to when they are evaluating a decision,” says Breininger. “It’s much better to work in an environment where people are valued.”

In a similar vein, IMG is also pursuing B Corporation certification, a third-party audit of corporate best practices with a focus on ethical business.

“Although our existing practices did lead us to a passing score, the 200 questions in the B Corporations assessment challenged us to look at a number of things differently,” says Breininger. “The significant difference is that B Corporations try to make decisions that balance the interests of all stakeholders (including employees, the community and the environment) and not just shareholders.”

Continued legacy

IMG’s guiding statement, “Building Authentic Connections around Meaningful Work,” will lead the company into this millennium. “We continue to have a very solid business plan to address the marketplace and provide exceptional services to our clients,” says Masson.

“We are also very excited about beginning a conversation with our employees, clients, contractors, and suppliers about how we can all reach out to the community beyond our walls and find valuable, consistent and innovative ways to connect more and more people with meaningful work.”