His new enterprise, Classified USA, based in Willoughby Hills, Ohio, officially kicks off today with a marketing campaign designed to let people know that Stepien, 68, is back in the business and ready to compete. Since May, Stepien has been securing credit with newspapers around the country so he can start placing ads July 1.
'When I started Nationwide, people laughed at me for working on these little classified ads in Ohio,' Stepien said. 'Then they saw that I was billing $93 million and they took notice. I built a national organization that was 35 offices strong when I sold the business. Now, I'm starting from scratch in an environment that's a lot more advanced and competitive.'
The number of recruitment agencies now total more than 100, according to several industry sources. Several advertising agencies jumped on the recruitment bandwagon during the 1980s as a way to generate income without adding sizable overhead.
Stepien said that with technological advances, like the fax machine, computers and increased media opportunities, his operation will be more complex.
'I always looked for creative ways to do classified advertising,' Stepien said. 'I took the classified ad out of the classified section and ran it in other sections of the newspaper. Now we're looking at other media, which could include TV, radio, billboards . . . who knows.'
Nationwide, which Stepien sold to the Gund family in 1983 along with the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team for $22 million, is still a major force in recruitment advertising.
Stepien said although he hasn't signed any clients yet, he claims to have several advantages.
'We're well financed, I've got a good reputation in the business and I love the business,' Stepien said. 'It's about more than a classified ad . . . it's about helping companies find people for jobs.'
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)