When Blaine L. Nelson chaired the board of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, he was a key figure in recruiting the much-acclaimed music director Jaap Van Zweden to the organization. Now Nelson, a one-time managing principal in the Dallas office of professional services giant Deloitte, is aiming to replicate that kind of hiring success with a new senior-level, executive-search firm called BLNelson Group LLC.
Nelson’s Dallas-based boutique company consists of a loose “alliance” of search experts with specialties in energy, healthcare, and technology, including Howard Hodges, a former Texas Instruments global sales manager. Another member of the alliance, Nelson says, is a Houston-based research person with proprietary software and access to multiple, extensive databases of C-suite job candidates.
“After spending 40 years in professional services, I have a great network of relationships,” says Nelson, who will specialize in recruiting oil-and-gas as well as professional-services executives. At the same time, he adds, the “executive-search firm business is becoming more robust—and there’s an enormous war for talent.”
According to market research company Hunt Scanlon Media, which tracks the executive-search industry, the senior-level recruiting industry grew by 10 percent in the Americas region in 2016, with the top 50 firms generating $3.1 billion in revenue. North Texas-based firms on the Hunt Scanlon list were Kaye/Bassman-Sanford Rose (No. 10, with $44.2 million in revenue) and Chartwell Partners (No. 29, with $11 million).
These days, though, experts say boutique firms like Nelson’s are responsible for most of the high-level executive-search business. And that’s just what the former Deloitte exec is banking on as he enters this next phase of his career … looking for a lot more Jaaps.