HRS closes up shop

Ollenburgs launch executive consulting firm

Last updated on June 24th, 2019 at 02:56 pm

Brookfield-based HR consulting firm Human Resource Services Inc. has ceased operations, as of Jan. 31.

Jessica Ollenburg, owner and chief executive officer, said the business landscape has changed drastically since she and her parents founded the business in 1983. At that time, most companies didn’t have internal human resources departments.

“When we started out, people did not know what human resources was,” Ollenburg said.

Her father passed away in 1994, and Ollenburg bought out her mother to take full ownership of HRS in 2000.

As an HR generalist consulting firm, HRS provided services such as third-party evaluation of internal candidates for a promotion. At its peak, the company had about 15 employees. It also had an office in Scottsdale, Arizona, and in Washington, D.C. until 2016.

“People are far more educated in HR disciplines and what we are seeing is that the HR industry is so saturated that if you’re not nimble or extremely unique and distinctive, it’s very difficult to have a competitive edge,” she said.

HRS’ remaining employees were laid off, but all have already found other roles, Ollenburg said.

“We’re actually in a position where no one has to lose a job,” she said. “Some will work for clients, but everyone has landed safely.”

The company will gradually wind down operations to complete all client work.

“The decision to close has been extremely difficult; however, HRS has always been known and relied upon for accurate and visionary predictions,” Ollenburg said. “To that end, we see enough change on the approaching HR industry horizon to validate this as the most responsible decision for all stakeholders, past and present.”

A new venture

Now, Ollenburg, 55, and her husband, John Ollenburg, 56, have formed a new Milwaukee-based executive consulting firm: Ollenburg LLC.

John Ollenburg

“It’s going to start out with a solo practice where I can focus on everything I’ve learned at HRS and outside of HRS,” Jessica said. “We’re going to be entirely focused on executive consulting, so working with business owners and high-level executives and only in the three areas of fractional (chief human resources officer), employment law and talent management.”

John was previously in management for wine and spirits consultancy and distributor Purple Feet Wines. He joined HRS when it was sold in 2015.

Jessica said with Ollenburg LLC, she chose to focus on using her top skills.

“I believe that if you want to continue in the HR executive field, you need to pick a specialty and really focus on it,” Jessica said. “Employment law and talent management and working with business owners and executives is what I’m best at. I don’t want to do things we’re average at. I only want to do things we excel at.”

Ollenburg LLC is focused on assisting executives at mid-sized businesses in southeastern Wisconsin. The couple plans to establish a physical office location in Milwaukee soon.

Among its services are corrective action counseling, employment law consulting, crisis management consulting, candidate background investigation, employee assessment and development, company culture analysis, and change management assistance.

“The average Ollenburg LLC client is going to be a mid-sized business owner who is navigating changing employment laws and the skills gap and is going to want to make sure they have the right people doing the right things with the right resources and with no legal risks,” she said.

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Molly Dill
Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.