The Evolution Of CPI

Its year end here at CPI with October 31, 2017 marking the end of our 35th fiscal year. Its been a banner year for CPI with the finance and accounting team reporting one of the best financial years to date. So we thought wed take a look and what makes CPI so successful and such a great place to work. In this two-part series, we will explore the history, evolution and future of CPI.

So what makes a great staffing company? Is it the people? The mission? The processes? The financial management? The brand?


The temporary staffing industry is highly competitive and fragmented with limited barriers to entry. So just about anyone can hang up a staffing shingle and set to work. This makes it harder for legitimate, time tested and well run staffing firms to disseminate their message in an overly crowded marketplace.

In addition, the future growth of many staffing businesses depends on their ability to remain competitive in obtaining and retaining temporary staffing clients.

Just as pivotal to the success of any staffing company are the quality and expertise of the recruiters, as well as the enthusiasm they bring to the office day in and day out.

So how has a company like CPI managed to stay profitable and competitive for more than 35 years? The companies founder Steve York would probably tell you that its because his team has been trained to do it right the first time.

CPI History

A Michigan native and a US Air Force Veteran, Steve served in the military from 1968-1976. He served his first four years in Aircraft Maintenance achieving the rank of E-5 or Staff Sergeant and the last four years, as a member of the Michigan Medical Recruiting Team.

It was his interest in recruiting that led him to found CPI. Deeply rooted within the defense vertical, the CPI recruiting team initially focused on finding contingent and direct employment opportunities for those working in the defense field. But also staying true to the Motor City, CPI did a brisk business with the Big-3 and their suppliers as well.

With Steve at the helm, it didnt take long for CPI to outgrow its small home office in West Bloomfield. In order to serve his clients more effectively, Steve built CPIs corporate headquarters in Waterford, Michigan in 1990, where it remains today. In 1987, CPI was named the 35th fastest growing privately owned company in the United Stated by INC. 500 and the 3rd fastest growing privately owned company in Michigan by Michigan 100.

Its All About The Principle

In addition to running at a profit for over 35 years and holding service disabled veteran owned certifications from the Department of Veterans Affairs (SBVOSB) and the National Veterans Business Development Council (NVBDC), CPI has lived by its mission to find employment opportunities for both civilians and veterans since 198

And more than a third of the CPI staff is made up of employees who have been with the company for more than 20 years. The hallmark of my company is built upon my principles of professionalism and loyalty, said York. Im proud to have made this journey with several of my employees for many, many years and in come cases decades.

Partnering With The Best

As CPI went through a series of ups and downs, Steve always had his eye on acquisitions and partnerships. Staying true to his instincts for working with only the best, Steve would engage and ultimately hire James L. Cowper (Jim), a former CPI employee and world class senior staffing executive, to become CPIs president in 2014.

A holistic thinker, Jim joined CPI with the singular desire to grow the company. Known for his financial acumen and savvy business tactics, Jim also knew that it was time to tell the CPI story. Jims arrival at CPI ushered in a new period for CPI; one of cultural and brand transformation, with a focus on telling the CPI narrative, along with the development of CPIs new image.

Its A Cool Place

CPI had this incredible narrative, said Cowper. CPI is a veteran owned company putting veterans to work. When we started to tell that story, the community started to pay attention. This is evidenced by the multiple awards the CPI team has received from Crains Cool Places to Work For, Detroit and the 101 Best and Brightest Places to Work for Committee, as well as winning Veteran Owned Business of the Year, SBA, 2016 and MichBusiness CEO of CEOs award, 2016.


Cowper made his career out of capitalizing on opportunity. I knew that in order to take CPI to scale, we would need to align ourselves with like minded organizations to foster and support our growth, said Cowper. Jim then found and partnered with the National Veterans Business Development Council (NVBDC). The NVBDC is the only third party veteran owned business certification program in the United States and it is organized as a 501(c)3 not for profit foundation. The NVBDC was created for the purpose of providing a credible and reliable certifying authority that would ensure that valid documentation exists of a business’s veteran ownership and control.

Many lucrative business opportunities are available to veteran owned businesses through the supplier diversity programs offered at many companies and government agencies. In fact, the total spend available to qualifying businesses is estimated to be in excess of $80 billion annually.

Not only did CPI receive a certification from the NVBDC, but Cowper also joined the NVBDC advisory board in order to help the NVBDC grow. And grow it has! In 2017, the twenty eight corporations that make up the Billion Dollar Roundtable (BDR) voted to include service disabled and veteran owned businesses (SD/VOBs) certified by the National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC) in their qualified diversity spend.

NVBDC Founder and President, Keith King indicated that the BDR nod is a giant leap forward for all SD/VOBs who have been seeking business partnerships with Americas leading corporations. In short, its a game changer.

With companies such as Ford, Honda, IBM and Microsoft coming to the table, the BDR was created in 2001 to recognize and celebrate corporations that achieved spending of at least $1 billion with minority and women-owned suppliers. The BDR promotes and shares best practices in supply chain diversity excellence.

We’ll be back next week to finish the CPI story and talk about the companies future…Stay tuned. #CPIStrong







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *