ADP Buys RPO Servicer The RightThing

ADP, best known by the adjective “payroll processor,” will need to launch a rebranding campaign. Something like, “ADP, the full-service human capital company.”

The $10 billion company announced today it is acquiring The RightThing, a leading recruitment process outsourcer, which three years ago acquired AIRS. Terms of the deal weren’t announced.

It’s the second acquisition for ADP in as many months. In September it bought Asparity Decision Solutions, a supplier of  employee health benefits decision support tools.

Besides giving ADP a strong and immediate presence in the burgeoning RPO business, The RightThing’s AIRS unit brings a sophisticated recruitment technology and a well-regarded recruiter Internet training component.

However, the announcement strongly suggests that it was the RPO side of the house that ADP was after in the acquisition.

“With the addition of The RightThing’s industry-leading RPO services, technology and management team, ADP will not only expand into a strategic adjacent market, but will also immediately become a principal player in the RPO industry,” said Regina Lee, president of ADP’s National Account Services, Major Account Services, GlobalView and ADP Canada business units. “Expansion into complementary markets — such as RPO — will be of great benefit to our clients and is a critical element in our plan to grow our business.

As a privately-owned company, The RightThing does not disclose its financial details. However, when the company acquired AIRS, which reported its 2006 income as $9.1 million, CEO Terry Terhark reported The RightThing was the larger of the two companies. At the time of the sale, AIRS had a staff of 62. The RightThing had about 450 employees.

ADP, which has more than 51,000 workers, has been aggressively pushing into the human capital market for several years. Even though it’s widely known for its payroll processing and benefits administration, ADP has a strong HR technology lineup and services for auto dealers.

At the HR Tech show last week in Las Vegas the company unveiled Vantage, its first full-lifecycle talent suite. Its huge show booth featured its talent management product line.

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ADP started building out its HR tech products in 2006, when it bought VirtualEdge, which had a strong talent acquisition system. Over the years, it has added a number of other companies to strengthen its business process outsourcing, as well as to expand its HR tech services. In 2010, it acquired Workscape, giving it a compensation component.

The year before, ADP and Cornerstone OnDemand partnered up with ADP, gaining the rights to license and sell Cornerstone’s talent management suite, which included succession, performance, and learning. Now, Vantage integrates all those components into an HR suite aimed at the enterprise market.

The RightThing acquisition helps ADP fill in one of the few remaining gaps in its obvious quest to be a 360-degree, HR services provider. By its own count, the company already does business with 500,000 companies of all sizes through its payroll and benefits handling arm. That gives it unique access — and intelligence — into the hiring practices of its customers. With The RightThing, ADP can now provide recruitment services of one type or another to even the smallest — or the largest — of employers.

About the Author

John Zappe is contributing editor of, and the former editor of the now closed Fordyce Letter. John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. 

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him by clicking here.

  • Johnny Chang

    Wow – First off, congrats to The Right Thing! However, I’d beg to differ with that last sentence. You make it sound like The Right Thing can can do it all but they can not. They specialize in high volume, low complexity recruiting which, while has its own unique challenges, does not transfer well to hiring complex skill-sets, and higher salary ranges. I believe they have tried in the past to develop this offering, but nothing I see today, in their case studies indicates that they’ve been able to do this. Maybe I’m wrong though..A company that can do both the high volume, low complexity as well as the low volume, high complexity is going to be a force to be reckoned with. The RPO industry continues to grow and there are companies out there that are already showing that they handle both types of business. It should be a very interesting next couple of years!

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  • Neal Grabarkewitz

    Hopefully ADP can give AIRS the proper engineering and training support to leverage the capabilities of their SourcPoint (Oxygen) tool. I’ve used it for years and have been continually frustrated about AIRS’ inability to sell and properly train recruiters on this very powerful too.

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