Pioneering Visual Communications Search Firm Experiences Surge in Contract Staffing, Launches New Website

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Philip Kemper, President of Kemper Associates, hopes to continue the growth of the firm’s contract staffing services. Kemper Associates places its contractors through the contract staffing back-office services of Top Echelon Contracting, Inc.

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Companies that have never used contractors before are now coming to us to fill contract positions.

Kemper Associates may be one of the first recruiting firms to have focused on the Visual Communications industry, but with the continued growth of its contract staffing services and the launch of its new website, it certainly is NOT stuck in the past.

Established in 1977, Kemper Associates maintains the distinction of being one of the only national search firms devoted exclusively to the Visual Communications industry. The Chicago-based firm specializes in all facets of the Audio-Visual, Video, Interactive, Film, and Business Meeting/Events fields, filling positions ranging from top executive and administration levels of Operations, Marketing, Production and Sales; to middle level positions such as Account Executives, Producers, and Directors; to staff positions such as Writers, Art Directors, Cameramen, Video Editors and Technicians, Computer Graphic Animators, Project Coordinators, and more. The firm is known for its 13-point system that helps guide clients through the recruiting process and ensures a great fit for both the client and the candidate.

“We help our clients from a generalist point of view, too,” President Philip Kemper said. “The positions are not all producers, directors, writers, etc. A lot of the candidates we are asked to find are for IT, accounting, and other jobs within a clients’ office. We are highly specialized, but we do a lot of generalist work as well to meet our clients’ needs.”

More and more, those needs include contractors as evidenced by the recent surge in business Kemper Associates’ Contract Division has experienced. Like the closely related movie industry, the Visual Communications field is uniquely suited to contract staffing due to the project-based nature of the work. However, Kemper has noticed that the reliance on contractors has grown as companies try to navigate the challenges of today’s rapidly changing business environment.

“Companies that have never used contractors before are now coming to us to fill contract positions,” Kemper said.

Employers and job seekers can learn more about the firm’s direct hire and contract staffing services on the firm’s new website at The new site was launched this week.

Kemper hopes the site, with its extensive contract staffing section, will continue to increase awareness about the firm’s Contract Division. His goal is to help change the traditional mindset about contract staffing, which harkens back to the days of “temporaries” that would fill entry level positions for less than a week. Today’s contractors are highly skilled professionals that stay on the job for six to nine months, sometimes even longer, Kemper said.

“We’ve built a lot of confidence with our clients through our 13-point recruiting system,” Kemper said. “Now we would like to see more of them utilize our contract staffing services.”

One driving force behind the firm’s contract staffing growth is the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the healthcare reform law often better known as Obamacare. Small to mid-sized companies are utilizing contractors as a way to get around the law’s employer mandate, which will eventually require them to offer healthcare insurance if they have 50 or more full-time employees. The deadline for those with between 50 and 99 employees to comply has been extended to 2016, but Kemper has already noticed that companies are trying to figure out how they are going to handle it. Contractors are an attractive option because they do not count toward the 50-employee threshold. They are the legal employees of a staffing firm or a third party contract staffing back-office, which then becomes responsible for ACA compliance, including offering healthcare insurance to the contractors, if required. For instance, Kemper Associates’ contractors are employed by contract staffing back-office Top Echelon Contracting, Inc., which offers ACA-compliant healthcare insurance to its contractors.

Companies are also using contract staffing as a way to evaluate potential employees, trying them first on a contract basis before extending a direct hire offer, Kemper said. Additionally, a number of clients have found contracting to be an effective way to adequately staff their projects despite hiring freezes.

“They still have events that they have to operate in spite of the hiring freezes,” Kemper said. “One way to do that is to hire contractors and pay them out of the project budget rather than the administrative budget.”

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Julie Graff
Top Echelon Contracting
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