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Pittsburgh-based Jazz helps small businesses find right people

Tribune-Review
| Monday, May 2, 2016 11:00 p.m
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Pete Lamson is CEO of Jazz, a Strip District-based technology company that helps small businesses recruit and hire employees. Lamson, who was photographed in the company's office on April 12, 2016, was hired in December.
PTRLAMSONQA02041416
Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Pete Lamson is CEO of Jazz, a Strip District-based technology company that helps small businesses recruit and hire employees. Lamson, who was photographed in the company's office on April 12, was hired in December. He replaced founder Don Charlton, who was named chief technology officer. In June, the company changed its name to Jazz from Resumator.

Recruiting the right employees is a key to success in the business world, a fact not lost on Pittsburgh technology company Jazz.

The Strip District-based company, which sells software that handles all parts of the hiring process, is looking to its new CEO to lead the seven-year-old company through its next stage of growth. Pete Lamson, who previously was senior vice president of sales at digital storage company Carbonite, joined Jazz in December and took over from founder and CEO Don Charlton, who was named chief product officer.

Lamson is targeting the nation’s hundreds of thousands of small businesses, companies that typically don’t have dedicated software to manage the hiring process. In an interview with the Tribune-Review, he discussed the recruitment obstacles facing smaller companies, the potential for Jazz and the challenge of changing the name of the company, which was earlier known as Resumator.

Below are edited excerpts.

Trib: What problem is Jazz trying to solve for its customers?

Lamson: If you look at all the various steps a small business will go through when trying to attract qualified applicants, you have to get jobs posted. You hope people will respond to your job description. But counter to that is you can be absolutely flooded with résumés. You need a company that will help you both distribute your job listings through (online) job boards and then help you sift through the appropriate résumés as you receive them. Then there’s a matter of organizing interview schedules. You have to get feedback from all those interviews, collect and aggregate all the feedback on the different candidates. You need to think about background checks, skills assessments, sending out offer letters and getting back letters signed in a timely fashion. There are many, many steps to do this. And most businesses today solve this not through a set solution but through emails and Word documents and Excel spreadsheets. Jazz is a comprehensive solutions suite.

Trib: How big is the potential market for this company?

Lamson: Our solutions are designed for small businesses with between 25 and 500 employees. We estimate there are just under 600,000 of these businesses in the United States. That doesn’t count the global market. Initially we will remain focused on U.S. market penetration. But I expect we will broaden that to include international down the road.

Trib: What charge were you given when you were hired?

Lamson: I came to partner with the founder, Don Charlton, to help introduce Jazz to this very large market and ensure that all small businesses in the United States know these solutions exist, and then help Jazz scale and capture as much market share as we can. We have a winning solution and thousands of paying customers today. We need to tell the world about our solutions, and that’s why I’m here.

Trib: What was behind the name change and what have been the challenges of the change?

Lamson: The Resumator is actually a very good name and remains a very good name. It’s distinctive. It’s intuitive. It’s a name that says what the product does. The challenge for Jazz is the name Resumator is also limiting because our products do far more than just offer resumes to people. Given where we are headed, we needed a name that was going to be as broad as the solutions we offer. The challenge we’ve had is frankly it’s a big name. We’re effectively competing with an entire category of music. But it’s also one that’s highly memorable. Our vision for this is as our solutions become more highly adopted, then we become known as Jazz, the solution for small business — and as such we become highly memorable.

Trib: What’s the value proposition for a small business that’s probably stretched thin as it is?

Lamson: I think that if you talk to small business CEOs, they will say the No. 1 most important objective they have to accomplish is getting the right people in the seats to accomplish their business objective. It is a cliché in business — but one that’s very true — that a business’ core asset is its people. A failed hire is just about the most expensive poor investment a business can make.

Alex Nixon is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7928 or anixon@tribweb.com.

is a former freelancer.

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