Automation Executive Team
Stephen Nordness, President
Stephen graduated from Auburn University in 1981 with a degree in Industrial Management. After 9 years of working with a large transportation company, he set out to build his own business from the ground up. He moved his family to Birmingham and began researching the employment industry. He saw a need for temporary staffing that was not currently being addressed and in May 1990 opened the doors of Automation Temporary Services. He and his wife, Leslie began their business in a small office space and began to learn more about the staffing industry. Their hard work paid off and they were thrilled with their first-year revenue of just under $200,000. Their commitment to both their customers and their employees was centered around a very simple formula…Hard Work, Honesty, and Fairness. Over the years, Stephen’s passion for excellence and commitment to do the right thing has never wavered. Automation Temporary Services evolved into Automation Personnel Services, Inc., a name change that more accurately describes their full-service staffing and recruiting capabilities. When they opened their doors in 1990 they had 3 employees. Today, Automation employs approximately 250 full-time staff employees and over 30,000 temporary or contingent employees. They delivered revenue of over $180 million in 2014 and rank in the top 1% of staffing companies nationwide!
Leslie Cannella Nordness, Chief Marketing Officer/Co-Founder
Leslie is the co-founder of Automation Personnel Services and provided valuable leadership and guidance in the early years that has led to the company’s current success. Prior to launching Automation Personnel, Leslie worked in various sales and sales management positions that gave her the experience necessary to create a successful sales model. She started out in the oil and gas industry along the Gulf Coast and was consistently at the top of the revenue list. She later moved into retail operations and management as her responsibility and scope increased through promotions and transfers.
In 1990, Leslie and her young family relocated to Birmingham and decided to start their own company. After extensive research and planning, Automation Temporary Services was born. Over the last 26 years, Leslie has continued to be an active part of the organization, leading marketing and sales initiatives with event planning and execution that drives the Automation sales environment. The name was changed to Automation Personnel Services to more accurately represent our mission and Automation Technical Services was created.
In recent years, Leslie’s leadership role has provided critical counseling to developing managers and sales representatives. She has been a part of the executive team as they have made critical decisions leading to the company expansion to 32 branch offices in 10 states. Leslie has now taken on a more formal role as Chief Marketing Officer. In this role, Leslie will play a key part in developing and initiating our on-line marketing and developing Corporate Branding initiatives.
Leslie’s creative energy and desire for organizational excellence is a force that is used to drive our growth and has consistently led Automation to the top of the industry in annual revenue. The fact that Automation Personnel Services was awarded “Best in Staffing – Client Satisfaction” is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of the sales team and their support staff. The entire Automation “family” has been nurtured and encouraged through Leslie’s marketing and creative force. It is through her creative vision that we will continue to grow and make a difference in the lives of so many job seekers and businesses large and small!
Randy Watts, Executive Vice President
Randy graduated from the University of Utah in 1977. After graduation, he worked for U.S. Steel for 10 years in Utah, Colorado and in the corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA. In 1986, Randy moved to Birmingham, AL and became vice president of a general contracting and project management company. In 1994, Randy joined Automation Personnel Services as Vice President – Administration. As Vice President – Administration, Randy established the structure and personnel for Automation to perform its own processing of payroll and invoicing as well as most other accounting functions. Until this time, these functions had been subcontracted out.
David Soileau, Vice President – Administration
David graduated magna cum laude with a baccalaureate degree in finance from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana, in 1996. He continued his education at Southeastern Louisiana University and earned an MBA in 1997. David has over 17 years of experience in the staffing industry and has held a variety of positions. Prior to joining Automation Personnel Services, David worked as a branch manager with Kelly Services in Louisiana. In 2004, David joined Automation Personnel Services as the Corporate Sales Manager. He structured and implemented a time, territory, and prospect management strategy that maximizes call reach and frequency. The next year, David was promoted to East Regional Manager and was responsible for offices in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida. David’s region was divided twice due in large part to the high-speed, successful growth of the region and to his aggressive management style. David was recognized as Regional Manager of the Year for Automation Personnel Services in 2013. He also won the Determination Award in 2015. David was promoted to Director of Operations in 2017 and was recently promoted again to Vice President of Administration.
David has served on the board for the Alabama Staffing Association for the last 5 years and is the current Secretary/Treasurer. He is a Certified Staffing Professional by the American Staffing Association and also serves on the Association’s Industry Perception Taskforce for the Industrial Sector.
Abigail Morrow, General Counsel
Abigail started her professional career as a newspaper reporter and later transitioned to television where she was a producer, reporter, and anchor. Journalism taught her the power of words and data and fueled her interest in the legal field. After graduation from law school, Abigail worked in litigation, practicing employment law, construction, and general matters. Before coming to Automation Personnel Services, Abigail served as Corporate Counsel for Cadence Bank, NA and as an associate with Taylor, Ritter, P.C. and Lloyd, Gray & Whitehead, P.C. She has also been a legal career counselor and adjunct professor at the University of Alabama School of Law. She brings a wealth of knowledge to Automation Personnel Services and will be an integral part of our growth plan in the coming years.
Cherri C. Lee, Director of Human Resources
Automation Personnel Services, Inc continues to increase our infrastructure to support our growth and adapt to changing regulations in the employment industry. After months of searching for the right person, we are excited to introduce our new Director of Human Resources, Cherri C. Lee.
Cherri has over 15 years of experience in Human Resources working with various companies in the Birmingham area. Starting as a Human Resources Manager with Visionland Theme Park, now Alabama Adventure, and most recently as the Director of Human Resources for Quality Restaurant Concepts (Applebee’s). During her employment at Quality Restaurants, Cherri was instrumental in designing and updating the policy and procedure manual, updating the company handbook, and establishing a progressive discipline system for employee performance and disciplinary documentation and tracking. She also designed and delivered training for the Regional and General Managers to use the HR policies and procedures and manage people in accordance with them.
Cherri has a broad range of experience in all areas of Human Resources but her greatest passion is Employee Relations. Working with companies to recruit, staff, develop and retain their most valuable asset, their people. Cherri is well-equipped to take on the challenge of managing the HR issues across the ten states where Automation Personnel has branch offices.
We are excited to have Cherri join #TeamAutomation! Please help us welcome her to the Automation Personnel Services, Inc. Family.
Laura Achee, Eastern Regional Manager
Laura Achee graduated from Birmingham Southern College in 1999 and continued her education earning an MBA at the University of Georgia. After 8 years in the construction waste industry, Laura joined Automation Personnel Services in 2010 as a Branch Manager in Kennesaw, GA. In 2015 she became the Branch Manager in Charlotte, NC and was promoted to Regional Manager over our North Carolina and South Carolina branches in 2016.
Cindy Agan, Central Regional Manager
Cindy Agan has been named Automation Personnel Services Regional “Manager of the Year for 2014” . Cindy has excelled at driving sales and operational excellence throughout her region. During the past 12 months, Cindy has used her motivation and communication skills to keep the Central division growing and delivering excellent customer support. Her commitment to customer satisfaction is only a part of what makes Cindy an outstanding manager. During the difficult economic environment and changing healthcare market Cindy has successfully stayed committed to keeping her staff focused and on target to meet all operational goals. Cindy began her professional career in staffing 28 years ago while living in the Charlotte, NC metro area.
Cindy has held various roles from Branch Manager to Marketing Manager, Area Manager, District Manager and her current role as Regional Manager, Central Division. Cindy has been instrumental in developing growth strategies, directing sales, operations, training and startup locations for Automation Personnel Services. Her passion for outstanding customer service and the ability to increase market share has led her to many awards over her career including 3 MVP’s, Ambassador of the Year for Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, several top producer awards, Area Manager of the Year, as well as multiple top team building awards. Cindy has experience in working with a variety of companies from family owned businesses to Fortune 100 and 500 companies. Cindy is CSP certified and appeared in Who’s Who Staffing several times. Cindy is currently responsible for offices in AL, FL, TN and MS. A University of Alabama graduate, Cindy was a Crimsonette with the University of Alabama million-dollar marching band for four years.
Laurie Bradley, Southern Regional Manager
Laurie attended Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana. After graduating, she worked in the Human Resources field for five years. In 2000, Laurie joined Automation as the Office Manager for the Huntsville, Alabama location. She was promoted to Sales Representative in 2002 and subsequently promoted to Branch Manager in 2003. Laurie’s leadership and sales drive quickly took the Huntsville location to the most profitable office in the company. In 2011, she was promoted to Regional Manager over the Baton Rouge, Gulfport, Memphis, and New Orleans branches.
Renee Rives, Vice President of Sales
Renee has over 20 years of experience in the Staffing Industry and is recognized by her peers as an expert in the industry. She joined the Automation team in Atlanta in February of 1994, just four months after it opened. Renee has been an integral part of the growth in the Atlanta Market by being creative and committed to our customers’ needs.
Renee has held positions as a Payroll/Staffing Coordinator, Account Representative and Selling Branch Manager. As a sales rep., Renee consistently lead the sales team in opening new accounts and growing existing accounts. This was accomplished by understanding the customer culture and committing to making sure the customer gets what they need to succeed. Renee has been a successful Hunter and Farmer in growing her Branch’s revenue.
She was a top producer as a sales representative, leading the company for many years. Once promoted to Selling Branch Manager, Renee continued to lead Automation with one of the top ranked branches for many years. Renee’s ability to evaluate markets and implement a sales strategy to meet company objectives is a cornerstone of her effective management style. Strategic planning and tactical implementation planning is one of her strengths.
Renee has developed a strong sense of operational effectiveness and is consistently presenting new ideas for recruiting and reducing operational overhead to increase margins. This type of open-minded management is a great mentoring environment for Renee’s account managers.
In September of 2006, she was promoted to Regional Manager over our Georgia locations. Since that time, she has opened several new branch offices and has grown sales in her region to over $40 million in annual revenue. She currently manages our five locations in Georgia, as well as our Chattanooga, TN location. Strategic planning and tactical implementation are some of her strengths that have allowed her to excel in the Staffing Industry.
In 2012 Renee’s Region, including all of her branch locations, set record high sales and revenue results. Her efforts earned her the designation of Regional Manager of the Year for 2012, Renee repeated that again in 2016 earning “Regional Manager of the Year”. She continues to produce record-setting results. Due to Renee’s exceptional leadership in Sales she was promoted to Vice President of Sales in 2018.
Bernadette Klene, Western Regional Manager
Bernadette attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL. After college, she worked in the accounting field for 13 years. In 1999 she joined Automation Personnel Services as a sales representative in Baton Rouge, LA. After eighteen months she was promoted to branch manager, and for the next several years she had the number one office in the company. In 2002, she opened a location in Houston, Texas, and turned a profit in 10 months. In 2005, Bernadette was promoted to West Regional Manager over offices in California, Louisiana, Texas, and Tennessee. Since that time she has opened six more locations in Texas. Bernadette has been recognized as regional manager of the year for APS for five consecutive years. She is a Certified Staffing Professional and is currently a member of the American Staffing Association.
John Nordness, Technical Services Manager
John graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Engineering. After graduation, John worked in the aerospace industry as an integration engineer with Teledyne Brown Engineering. In 1993 John joined the University of Alabama as a payload developer, designing and developing scientific instruments for Microgravity research. As a program manager for Microgravity Research, John was involved in the development and flight of over 40 space shuttle experiments.In 1998 John joined Per-Se Technologies. During his four years at Per-Se Technologies, John held several management positions within their Enterprise Systems management division. As the Senior Director of Enterprise System Management, John was responsible for all of the networks, business systems, and servers utilized in their $600 MM/year medical billing and scheduling business.
After leaving Per-Se John joined BellSouth/AT&T Convergent Services Group as a Senior Technical Director. John was responsible for the management of the software development and test environment utilized to generate Internet products and services offered by their ISP business unit.
John joined Automation Personnel Services in 2011 to start an engineering recruiting service leveraging his 25 years of building highly successful technical teams.
Jenny Ramsey, North Texas Regional Manager
Jenny graduated from Midwestern State University with a bachelor’s degree in business in 1999. Shortly after college, she started with Automation in Dallas as an Account Representative. She was promoted to Branch Manager in Dallas in 2002. In 2006, she opened the Fort Worth Branch and has grown the branch to a very successful office. In 2014, she was promoted to a Regional Manager over the Dallas/ Ft.Worth Area.