Monday, November 11, 2013

Bob Cohen Remembered

During the past 30 years I have witnessed a consistent transformation of the Canadian staffing industry and its players.   In the early 80’s, the industry was truly “entrepreneurial”.  At the time, Bob Cohen was the founder and President of Staffing Consultants.  He was a leader of the staffing industry’s entrepreneurial spirit.

I originally met Bob Cohen in Toronto in 1983 or 1984 at an Association of Canadian Search, Employment & Staffing Services meeting (formerly FTHS and CATS) and he quickly became a trusted mentor and advisor.  He believed that we could all thrive and succeed in our fledgling industry if we would collaborate together to promote the industry, share best practices, and set standards.  While some owners were naturally untrusting, insular, protective and secretive around competitors, Bob Cohen was the exact opposite.  He set a positive example for openness, sharing and professionalism. His goal was to make it a better industry for us all.

As a newcomer to the industry, I turned to Bob and few other industry greats for guidance, advice and leadership.  If you know a bit about the Canadian staffing industry’s past, you’ll understand why I associate Bob Cohen with Gil Rosen, Bill Coke and Ted Turner.  These guys cared and worked hard to foster the health and growth of an industry that has now become an important and integral part of Canadian business success.

Bob understood that relationships of trust are the key ingredient to successful collaboration. He phoned, he met, he talked, he was professional but most of all, he was personal.  Almost every time that we greeted each other or laughed or departed, Bob was comfortable in putting a hand on my shoulder.   Bob and I had many lunch meetings in Toronto, drinks in Montreal, dinners in Dallas and laughed in streets of Las Vegas.  Some men have the knack for comfortably nurturing relationships of trust and confidence.  He was that man.

With over 40 years in the industry Bob knew and influenced countless others as he did me.  He was instrumental in the staffing industry association merger, various industry public relations projects, government lobbying, conference planning and became the North American expert in staffing business valuations, mergers and acquisitions.

Together with his friend and business partner Sam Sacco, they successfully completed over 140 staffing industry M&A transactions.

Bob passed away peacefully on Saturday.  I know that I speak for many when say that our thoughts and prayers are with Bob and his family, especially his loving wife Debra.  He will be missed and always thought of with tremendous respect for his knowledge, his accomplishments, his values and his friendship.

Bob was instrumental and influential over many of the changes to the Canadian staffing industry. But while the business changed and evolved, the personality, the commitment and honourable nature of the man behind it remained the same.  Bob Cohen – Rest in Peace.

“Cohen, Robert A. (Bob). Passed away on Saturday, November 9, 2013. Beloved husband of Debra Joy Eklove. Devoted father of Paul Cohen, Julie and Corey Chandler. Adoring grandfather of Hudson Davis and Smith Beckett Chandler. Brother of Michael Cohen and Stephen Cohen both of California. Bob was born in Brooklyn, New York and moved to Toronto to begin a business in the staffing industry. His passion as a teacher was expressed through his work in schools, as an entepreneur and leader in the Staffing industry for 40 years, as a baseball coach, mentor and scout for the Major League Baseball Commissioner's Office. His strength and courage, and feisty character will be sorely missed by family, many lifelong friends and colleagues.”


Kevin Dee said...

Great post Steve. I only knew Bob in recent years but can certainly appreciate the contributions he made to our industry and his warm and friendly nature. I will miss seeing Bob at the conferences!

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Rhonda Taylor said...

Hello Steve,

What a heart break to learn of Bob's death. He was a leader in the staffing world. He helped to start my career off in the staffing industry. He was very knowledgeable and thorough. I had so such respect for Bob that I had him broker the selling of my business RET Staff Service to Olsten. He was a profession gentleman through out the whole process.

God give him eternal peace and happiness.

Rhonda Taylor
VP of HRmarketer