Bob Hickman, owner of Chenhall’s Staffing and HR Network in Davenport, has but one gear, and it is locked in the "Go" position.

Hickman, who purchased Chenhall’s in 2000, has spent the past 13 years positioning the company for growth and has seen it through recent economic turmoil.

Among the moves Hickman has made are the addition of personnel, and a new Small Business Association designation that will allow other companies to team with Chenhall’s to bid on government contracts.

Hickman has enhanced his staff with several people whose skills not only will aid Chenhall’s strategic plans, but also the company’s customers in their staffing needs and plans for growth.

Kelly Wainwright has joined Chenhall's as vice president after a career in small business banking in the Quad-Cities. Tony Bell, who has more than 20 years’ experience in sales and marketing, is responsible for business development. Amy Alger has been brought in as a recruitment specialist. Mike Gowdy remains a longtime recruiter, while Dana Weise has been brought in for accounting and Jeff Mokhtar has been hired as IT coordinator.

Also, Hickman, who is Cherokee, was able to obtain federal SBA 8(a) status through the Small Business Administration. The status allows eligible firms  to be awarded federal government contracts on a sole-source basis of up to $3 million for goods and services and $5 million for manufacturing. The status also allows 8(a) firms to form joint ventures and team up to bid contracts.

Chenhall's has employed, on average, more than 600 people during the past three years.

“Bob is always on the go and his attitude is infectious,” Wainwright said.

Speaking about the company and the new talent brought on board, Wainwright said, “We’re all seasoned professionals. We all have different skills and expertise that allow us to best serve the varied needs of our customers.”

“When you work in the same building with Bob, you feel the need to keep up with him,” Bell said. “It’s always, go, go, go.”

Chenhall’s was founded in 1950 by Harold Chenhall. In 1973, Dick and Peg Guhin took over the business and operated it until 2000 when Hickman bought it.

“I was looking for a business to buy and this was a good fit with lots of potential,” Hickman said. “My background is in education, human resources and counseling.”

Hickman earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1970 from Oklahoma State University. He also earned a master’s in counseling and personnel administration in 1972 from Oklahoma State.

After working in higher education for nine years, Hickman spent 18 years at McGladrey & Pullen LLC, holding the position of national director for recruiting and management development, as well as national partner for human resources and recruiting.

Bell said that with technology changing all the time, the Chenhall’s staff works diligently to find the best and most qualified people for the company’s clients.

“We’re always working to expand our pool of talent,” he said.

But while the company has 8(a) status and is looking to expand into other areas as well as bid for government contracts, “The core business is still the core business. It is recruiting the best employees for our customers who need temporary or want temp-to-permanent help, as well as working with individuals to find them jobs.”

As the economy has changed, there are many more people making mid-career transitions and repositioning themselves in the changing market. Bell said Chenhall’s has the expertise to help this segment of the market.

Now located in the Village of East Davenport, Chenhall’s list of services includes temporary and temp-to-perm employee recruitment, as well as payroll transfer services, employee training, pre-employment screening and testing, professional and executive recruitment, career counseling, outplacement and motivational workshops.

The company has performed so well that it has been designated the 2013 National Defense Industrial Association Iowa Small Business of the Year.

“We are proud of this award and what it means both to Chenhall’s and the Quad-City business community,” Hickman said. “We’ll continue to provide world-class service and personnel to all our partners and customers.”

The bottom line for Chenhall’s, Hickman said, is “Have the right person for the right position at the right time.”