President & Managing Director
Merraine Group Inc.
David Gantshar, President – Merraine Group Inc.
#845.570.4292 (direct) or #845.290.2900 (main)
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
Published – February 13, 2023
CEOCFO: Mr. Gantshar, what is Merraine Group?
Mr. Gantshar: Merraine Group is a talent solutions firm, providing executive search and recruitment, contract and interim staffing, training, organizational development, and HR solutions to hospitals, medical centers and organizations working within health and human services. This includes both for profit and non-
CEOCFO: How did you begin and how do provide such a wide variety of services?
Mr. Gantshar: We started in April of 2001 as an executive search and recruitment firm for the printing industry because I spent the first twelve years of my career within graphic communications. When I graduated college in 1990, printing was the sixth largest industry in the world, and within a dozen years I do not think it was even in the top thirty. My very first hire at the company was a woman named Barbara Ratner, who happens to be my mother. Unfortunately, she passed away this past March. My mother said to me “We need to get out of the printing industry and we need to focus on healthcare.” Her background was in the nonprofit sector and specifically running nonprofit healthcare and healthcare organizations serving underprivileged communities and individuals at risk. We jumped into these fields with great enthusiasm as a regional firm in 2002 providing recruitment services all over New England. The response was overwhelming primarily because our process was so thorough. By 2004 we had gone national and by 2007 international. We started acquiring companies in 2013. It was one step which led to the next which led to bigger and better opportunities as we grew.
Due to my own experience raising two children with disabilities -
CEOCFO: What are some of the challenges your clients are facing today and what do you understand about how to solve them that perhaps less experienced or knowledgeable people do not?
Mr. Gantshar: I think there are number of issues. The biggest which will not be a surprise to you is this massive war for talent. It has become even more exaggerated because of COVID. Now people want to work from home and there are so many telehealth centers and the war for talent has now put us in a situation where you can be a company in Bogota but you want to hire somebody in Philadelphia, so now you are competing with companies at the global level for the same talent. There is a lot of financial pressure in terms of wages. There is a massive need for communities that are underrepresented within business and the nonprofit sector to ensure they are competing on a level playing field. As a woman-
As far as DEI is concerned, it is a subject near to our hearts not just because we are a woman-
In summary, these are not new discussions for us nor are they simply about “closing a deal.” These are the issues we think about 18 hours a day and we have helped more than 1,800 health and human service organizations find the solutions they are looking for. As a family-
CEOCFO: When you are taking on a new client are they coming to you because they recognize the difference?
Mr. Gantshar: I think most of them do. We are never going to be the least expensive option but we are not the most expensive. Our client retention rate is near perfect. I think most of them understand that the level of detail we provide in a search, the level of discretion, and the cycle time that we can provide while offering a selection of candidates supported by 22 years of research and analytics means, yes -
Our process is more thorough, more dedicated and we are more knowledgeable in the fields we serve. Our clients have access to our C-
CEOCFO: When you are looking at a candidate, what might you look at that sets your approach apart?
Mr. Gantshar: I think for a lot of executive search firms, the bar is set very low. Anybody can open a recruitment firm as long as you have a computer and a phone. For a lot of people they think that a hospital or physician’s practice needs a certain skill set and if they can match that skill set they can make a $25,000 fee and the reality could not be further. We are different and I might even argue -
When we go into an organization, we like to meet with senior leadership to understand how they motivate, to understand what builds a cohesive leadership team, to understand how they retain their people and to understand how they are going to judge the performance of their new hires. What does a fabulous performer in their organization look like? I know people that have totally failed in one organization but blossomed in another. You may ask why because they either have the skills or they don’t. However, the same person thrived under Mary’s leadership but under Joe’s they felt disenfranchised. What I think we do is try to understand how the personal chemistry will gel with the leadership of the organization we are talking about and we work to focus on their motivation. We do not want to just find somebody in Denver. Again, anyone can do that. However, we want to make sure that person has a tie to Denver, maybe their in-
By law, we are not allowed to ask someone if they are married. However, organizations must consider children and/or a domestic partner’s needs when making a hiring decision. We all know the #1 reason that people do not make a career change is not because of money. It is because of family issues. For example, they cannot leave their parents due to illness or because they cannot pull their teens out of high school. If they want to share information with us about their family, we ensure we have a trailing spouse program so the family unit is taken care of. The old expression “Happy wife, happy life,” is relevant to not just the spouse but all of the people – and pets – in one’s life. The answer to your question is we are looking at things that are not just about skill set. We are focusing on what makes up the person, what motivates them and then thinking about what will keep them there three or four years ahead. If we know the answers to these questions, we have solved the puzzle of retention.
CEOCFO: What is ahead for Merraine Group?
Mr. Gantshar: In 2020 we were named by the Financial Times as one of the 200 Fastest Growing Companies in the United States of America. Imagine! During COVID, we never expected such a thing. I think for some extent -
We believe the right way to talk to clients is by offering to assist with talent solutions on a much bigger scale. The gentleman that heads up our organizational development area has a master’s degree in organizational development and came out of KPMG. The woman that heads up our training and performance area comes out of the largest recruitment and training organization in the US. The VP of our acute care division spent a dozen years working in managed care and listening to the concerns, issues and challenges patients have. These people are leaders in their fields. It is who we are at Merraine. We know this: If we understand the end-
It is quite powerful to walk into a client and offer to help with their recruitment process. Now let’s take that to a whole different level. Conversations today are about how we can help with an executive search and then by offering assistance in other areas of talent solutions – the magic is in telling them, “You will not have to spend as much on recruitment because we can fix some of these issues.” We can fix part of the DEI issue, the retention issue, the training issue. The power is in knowing that by helping leaders ramp up more quickly and solidifying their positions through innovation we can best understand what our clients really appreciate. What’s next? We are going to grow the divisions that are the biggest threat to our legacy business: recruitment. If we do that, we ultimately may reduce our revenues within placement but when has doing the right thing been a strategy for anything but growth? I feel like the executive search market will continue to grow and remain over 50% of our business. Now the challenge will be explaining how we can be a total solutions firm to our clients and by doing this, we know our clients will continue to place their faith in Merraine.
Merraine Group Inc. | David Gantshar | Healthcare Executive Search Firms | Interim Healthcare Leadership Recruiting | Merraine Group -