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News / Business / Clark County Business

Vancouver-based Barrett Business Services expanding its offerings and partnering with Kaiser

BBSI started as a staffing agency but now sells business management services to small businesses around the country

By Sarah Wolf, Columbian staff writer
Published: April 4, 2024, 6:36pm
3 Photos
BBSI, headquartered in Vancouver, has transformed itself over the years, maintaining success even as other public companies have suffered in the global economy.
BBSI, headquartered in Vancouver, has transformed itself over the years, maintaining success even as other public companies have suffered in the global economy. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

After 50 years in business, Vancouver-based Barrett Business Services has evolved from its staffing agency beginnings. Now, the company is partnering with a major health care provider to expand its offerings to clients.

The company, which sells business management services to small businesses around the country, announced Monday it is introducing Kaiser Permanente health plans for its clients operating in Kaiser service areas.

Portland native Bill Sheretz launched BBSI just over 50 years ago. His Portland office focused on staffing. Over time, the company expanded, as BBSI bought other staffing agencies before becoming publicly traded in 1994.

Then, BBSI began buying staffing agencies in California, Utah and Idaho.

“Then, the model started to shift after that,” CEO Gary Kramer said. BBSI now has about 200 employees at its corporate headquarters in the VanMall neighborhood.

The company already was self-insured with workers’ compensation, so executives used that as a way into becoming a professional employment organization.

BBSI began to offer payroll services, and administering workers’ compensation programs and benefits — all things Kramer said small businesses have a tough time doing.

The company has evolved since Sheretz started his staffing and recruiting shop all those years ago. Now, it operates in 68 markets around the country, with large clientele bases along the West and East Coasts.

Serving small business

BBSI primarily serves small businesses; its average client employs 26 people.

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“We’re able to take that group buying power and bring savings down to small businesses,” Kramer said. Then, the small businesses have access to the teams of professionals, tools and products BBSI offers.

Among one of the more recent offerings from the company is access to its client interface — myBBSI. This modular program can be adapted for clients’ specific needs.

BBSI has been relatively successful in recent years. Its income in the last quarter was $14.6 million, or $2.16 per diluted share, on sales of $276.7 million. It brought in $1.07 billion in revenue in 2023 and $50.6 million, or $7.39 per diluted share, in net income.

Layoffs among its clients impacted BBSI’s business last year, but Kramer said in a February call with investors that sales have since stabilized.

With its recent addition of Kaiser health plans, BBSI is expanding its services further. It also offers Aetna nationally and Cambia in certain markets.

Kramer said BBSI is able to use its buying power to provide plans for small businesses they wouldn’t have had access to before.

“You’re going to be able to attract and retain better employees because of this powerful offering that we’re able to partner with you on,” he added.

The company trades on the Nasdaq as BBSI. Its stock closed Thursday at $121.02 per share, down from Wednesday’s close of $124.91 per share.

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