Success Stories

Alfonso Lerma, business development manager connects jobs, recruits 

Hammond, INWhen the staff decided to transform the company’s look, the team went straight to the Web for help by connecting to clients through social media. Through polls on Facebook and the blog, the team sought votes to help select a new logo, and this shift has carried over into the Web site.

"We’re doing a redesign of everything. With the Web site, we are trying to create a real articulate presence for people who are looking to advertise available positions and job seekers alike," said Alfonso Lerma, business development manager at "We don’t want any confusion. We want it simple, straight-forward."

The online recruiting site has followed a course of change since its launch in spring of 2009. It originally started as a model similar to and where the staff was trying to solicit people to sign up, post resumes and look for work. But then, Lerma said, he and owner Dan Kesic realized they needed to take it in a different direction.

"What we did is take a look at: Where do we make our money as a business? It’s from businesses posting and advertising available jobs," Lerma said. "So we decided to reposition. By focusing on better customer service, we bring more jobs to our board and that brings more job seekers, actually. We’re getting many more resumes, many more applicants, just because the jobs are there."

Lerma said the company has found a niche with seasonal employers like caterers and amusement parks as it offers month-by-month pricing in addition to an annual plan. With a posting to, clients have the option to shoot it out to over 60 additional job boards, many of them free. Through research, Lerma added even more job posting sites.

"People are under the impression that if you have a job on Monster or Career Builder, then automatically picks it up and automatically picks it up. That is not the case," Lerma said. "I looked at those sites and just making sure that it was getting there and I found out that it wasn’t, so we wrote an XML code that specifically shoots the job there and guarantees it."

Through all the changes, Lerma connected with business advisor Jacquie Spearman for help with networking and brand recognition. He found a fit with the NWI SBDC’s networking event, Kinetic. He was able to spotlight his business and expertise by being a featured speaker.

"Plugging into something like Kinetic is great. It’s very interesting to me. We’ve definitely made substantial efforts, probably more here in Northwest Indiana and in the state, to really establish ourselves, but our clients are in Georgia, California, Texas," Lerma said. "So we would definitely like to have a presence in the state we’re from. It’s nice to say you can come back and make somewhat of a difference — a positive impact."

"It’s great to have an organized point of contact (like the SBDC)," Lerma added. "It’s both instituted by the state and then you also have the private businesses that come and look for advice, connectivity and resources."

Joshua Lybolt, regional director of the NWI SBDC, said outside of the workshops and one-on-one counseling that the SBDC offers, special events such as Kinetic are also an important tool.

"Our networking night is a stage where small businesses such as can be spotlighted and their staff’s skills and talents can be featured," Lybolt said.

For small businesses, Lerma believes the biggest challenge is attracting new customers and the best foundation is research.

"Just like any sale, you can have a product that is great for the person, that will save them money, but it’s the nature of the day that you are up against," Lerma said. "If that person is running from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., the last thing they want to do is have time to sit and listen to a sales pitch."

"My top advice is: Do your homework and write a responsible business plan," he added. "Understand what costs are really going to be and ask yourself: Do you have that to invest or do you have a line to that revenue?"

The NWI SBDC provides free assistance to entrepreneurs in the process of launching or expanding their businesses. Through one-on-one consulting, advisors help guide small businesses toward their goals by offering referrals, workshops, training opportunities and other essential business tools. works with both job seekers and hiring managers. For job seekers, it is an avenue to connect with potential employers. For hiring managers, offers the least expensive option for reaching needed candidates. Employers can access over 60 job boards from one online location. Accessing popular pay-to-post job boards like and Career Builder can be done for as little as $99.





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