one reason I’m proud of the industry, is the work
that ASA has done,” Messmer notes.
“I believe ASA taking the leadership role, along
with so many other leaders in the industry who are
here tonight, built the reputation of the industry as
one that is here to help people. We wouldn’t have
the success we’ve had as an industry, at the state,
local, and federal levels, were it not for that.”
The staffing industry exists to help two signifi-
cant groups—employers and job seekers. “We
help people find jobs. We help them find gainful
employment. We also help businesses find the talent
they need to grow.” But people won’t take advan-
tage of that help if they don’t feel they can trust
staffing professionals, Messmer notes.
The association’s devotion to promoting ethics
and professional conduct in the industry is critical,
he adds. “It’s important in dealing with our clients
and candidates that we always conduct ourselves in
a manner that really speaks well of the industry and
of our own integrity and professionalism.”
It’s important in dealing with other interested
parties as well. “We just aren’t going to have the
reputation we need when we’re lobbying—or other-
wise imploring officials at the state, local, or federal
level to hear our cause—if we don’t have a reputa-
tion for ethics and professionalism.”
Always Learning to Be Better
Although Messmer praises the progress that the
association and industry have made, he knows
it’s not enough. Staffing and recruiting profes-
sionals must always strive to improve. One way
is through education. “The association, over the
years, has gotten better and better at offering really
outstanding education and certification programs.”
Demonstrating an interest in professional devel-
opment sends a message—one that Messmer says
his team has always tried to remember at Robert
Half—that you always have to be open to new
ideas. “Things are always changing, and you either
adapt to that change or you get run over by it.”
He recalled a magazine article from decades ago
that suggested that automation was going to liter-
ally obliterate the workforce in America. While it’s
true that automation brought about many changes,
Messmer said, “I think it’s pretty clear that the
workforce has grown dramatically over that half
a century, and I think the next century will look
Technology is not the enemy. “We have a lot of
experience doing what we do. Technology can be
a great tool to help us do a better job. I do not
think it’s going to replace what you do,” he reas-
sured Staffing World attendees. “I think, however,
it can give you a competitive advantage if you learn
to use it properly and let it enhance your service
Messmer believes in sharing knowledge far
and wide. He wants to help everyone be better,
as illustrated by the many books he has written,
which include Job Hunting for Dummies, Human
Resources Kit for Dummies, Managing Your Career for
Dummies, and Motivating Employees for Dummies.
Staying Strong for Another 50 Years
In the end, Messmer notes, the work of the
staffing, recruiting, and workforce solutions industry
is about improving people’s lives, which is no small
thing. “I think what we do is important, and we
always need to remember that. It’s worthwhile. We
help people. It’s a great industry if you like people.”
“It’s been a wonderful 30 years,” Messmer says.
“This is a great industry. As long as we devote
ourselves to ethical conduct—to professional
conduct—as long as we’re open to ideas, and as long
as we’re willing to adapt and innovate, I think we
have a very good future.” n
Jennifer Silber, CAE, is editor for ASA. Send your feedback on
this article to firstname.lastname@example.org. Engage with ASA
on social media—go to americanstaffing.net/social.
The association introduced the ASA Leadership Hall of Fame Award in 1985 to recognize outstanding individual
contributions to ASA and the staffing industry. Since then, 43 distinguished leaders have been honored. (The Pioneer
Award was presented to individuals who contributed to the industry prior to 1966, when the association was founded.)
These outstanding industry leaders are members of the ASA Leadership Hall of Fame. Learn more about them by
visiting the ASA 50th anniversary website— americanstaffing.net/ASA50, where you will find a section dedicated to the
ASA Leadership Hall of Fame. Harold M. “Max” Messmer Jr. started
his professional life as an associate and
then partner practicing corporate law
with the firm of O’Melveny & Myers in
Los Angeles. During the administration
of President Ronald Reagan, he served for two years on the presi-
dent’s Advisory Committee on Trade Negotiations.
Messmer graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans,
where he was valedictorian, and is a graduate of the New York
University School of Law, where he was a Root-Tilden Scholar
and editor of the NYU Law Review. In 2000, Messmer received the
prestigious Alumni Achievement Award from New York University’s
Law Alumni Association.
Messmer resides in Woodside, CA, with his wife Marcia. They have
two sons, Michael and Matthew.
Peter D. Durham, Durham Staffing Inc.
Richard P. Essey, The TemPositions Group of Cos.
William Olsten, Olsten Corp.
Cedric Richner, Kelly Services Inc.
James D. Scheinfeld, Manpower Inc.
Helga Tarver, TeleSec Staffing Services
Ted K. Cobb, TOPS Total Personnel Services
John J. Husic Jr., Olsten of Hartford
William R. Kelly (Pioneer Award), Kelly Services Inc.
Aaron Scheinfeld (Pioneer Award), Manpower Inc.
Elmer L. Winter (Pioneer Award), Manpower Inc.
John W. Nugent, Flexi-Force Temporary Services
David J. Nugent (Pioneer Award), D.J. Nugent Co.
Willis C. Bullard Sr., Kelly Services Inc.
Charles J. Sigrist, Stivers Staffing Services
Sharon N. Bredeson, Staff-Plus Inc.
Samuel L. Workman (Pioneer Award), Workman Services
Barry B. Wright, AVTek Staffing Services
Allan C. Sorensen, Interim Services Inc.
Howard W. Scott Jr., par Time Inc.
Lawrence E. Derito, Office Specialists
Margo Berk-Levine, Temporarily Yours Staffing Services
Frank Ligouri, Olsten Corp.
Jaci Carroll, Jaci Carroll Staffing Services Inc.
Salvatore A. Balsamo, TAC Worldwide Cos.
Richard Reinhold, SOS Staffing Services
JoAnn Wagner, SOS Staffing Services
Mitchell Fromstein, Manpower Inc.
John Smith, Spherion Corp.
Karla Hertzog, Innovative Employee Solutions
Eileen Lesberg, World Wide Specialty Programs Inc.
Joel Biller, Manpower Inc.
Terence E. Adderley, Kelly Services Inc.
Judith Anne Zacha, Beacon Services Inc.
Robert D. Mulberger, CPC, CSP, NRI Staffing Resources
Tim Doherty, Doherty Employment Group
Jerome Shaw, Volt Information Sciences Inc.
Robert J. Gibson, Norrell
Karen Pitts, Link Staffing Services
Robert E. McDonough, Remedy Temp
Kathie Hanratty, Jaci Carroll Staffing Services
Robert “Bob” Livonius, AMN Healthcare
Harold M. “Max” Messmer Jr., Robert Half