BBA grad nationally recognized

Even after finishing just one year at Wilfrid Laurier University, it was clear that Jeff Nugent was an entrepreneur.

Following his first year of university, Nugent wanted to take a whitewater rafting trip and, after hearing from a company that his trip could be free if he got 12 other people to attend, he made started making some calls. 60 signups later, Nugent not only got a free whitewater rafting trip but started a relationship between Laurier and OWL rafting (an Ottawa-based whitewater rafting company) that is still used today for alumni events as well as WLU’s summer student baseball league, the MLSB.

Today Nugent, a business grad from Laurier’s class of 1995, is still enjoying entrepreneurial success, just on a larger scale. And now, he’s getting recognized for it.

Recently, Nugent’s company Contingent Workforce Solutions (CWS) was named in the top of the Profit Magazine’s ‘Hot 50’ ranking of Canada’s top new-growth companies, after the firm grew its revenue by 10,330 per cent between the recession plagued years of 2008-10.

“It wasn’t any kind of ‘whiz kid IT startup’ or anything along those lines,” said Nugent of starting his contract staffing company in 2008. “I had been in the industry for a number of years and I had all these clients that were discontent with utilizing traditional staffing agencies or were having trouble managing contract workforce … I just saw the need and thought, ‘Ok, it’s time to start something up.’”

Taking advantage of the growing trend of companies hiring staff on contract as opposed to permanently, CWS takes on a different role than a traditional staffing firm and manages a company’s entire contract workforce, as opposed to placing one worker in one position.

According to Nugent, who is not only the founder of CWS but also its president and CEO, this has spurred the incredible growth of his company over the past three years.

“We take over a whole program, so if you take on 50 people, all of the sudden that would represent $5 million in revenue,” he said. “So as we acquired these clients, we grew rapidly; it’s kind of the nature of the beast in what we do.”

Among those clients CWS has acquired in its short history are some pretty noteworthy names.

Nugent’s company currently works with everyone from big banks and insurance companies such as Bank of Montreal and TD Bank, to oil and gas companies like Enbridge and Suncor, to retailers like Wal-Mart, Sobey’s and Loblaws.

Despite the growth and recognition of CWS, Nugent and his company remain humble. The staff of CWS, which is still just eight people, was so shocked to find themselves at the top of Profit’s list, Nugent emailed the publisher with a subject line that read: “OMG.”

“You just try and do good work and you don’t really know what the yard stick is,” said Nugent. “So it was really neat when Profit approached us to apply and then incredible when we came out on top.”

Nugent, who looks back fondly on his time at Laurier, hopes his story can be an inspiration to the students of his alma mater.

“Being self-employed is a viable career choice, even for new grads,” he said. “Starting a business is not as scary as you might think if you have passion and commitment to it.”