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BW criminal justice grads take employment screening high tech

Chances are when you apply for a new job, the company does a background check. That's when TriCor steps in.

A Berea company founded in 1999 by three Baldwin Wallace University graduates, TriCor specializes in employment screening.

The BW grads and founders of TriCor are, from the left, Gary Becher, Mary Morrison-Owens and Stacey Sagerman.Gary Becher '88, vice president of sales & marketing; Stacey Sagerman '92, vice president of operations; and Mary Morrison-Owens '90, vice president of background screening/customer service, all have degrees in criminal justice from BW but didn't meet until later.

Pivoting from investigations

"We were all working at an investigations firm right out of college," Becher said. "Background screening was new then, and not many companies were doing it."

But when their employer added that to the firm's repertoire, the trio delved in and learned all they could.

"We decided we knew this stuff, and we could do it on our own," Becher said. TriCor was born.

The name stems from a brainstorming session. "Tri" stands for the three Yellow Jackets. "Cor" because it blends well with Tri. Sagerman came up with the company's slogan, "Ensuring the future by knowing the past."

Growing and partnering

TriCor operated out of an office in Parma, Ohio, for a few years but outgrew the space. That prompted a move to Berea and an office on Blaze Industrial Parkway.

The company offers a long list of screening services. Criminal records search, Social Security Number verification and drug testing are the top three, Becher said. Others include driving history, professional license verification, sex offender search and employment credit reports. Special searches can check the Terrorism Watch List, military records and Workers Compensation claims history, among more than 36 searches available.

Employers can mix and match what they want to include in their hiring practices. Last year, TriCor conducted 250,000 screening services. Over the past 23 years, the company has screened upwards of 1.3 million job applicants.

High tech and speedy service

Although an office staff of 18 is based here in Berea, most of the searches are done by contractors around the country and internationally.

"We have partnerships with drug testing companies, Bureau of Motor Vehicle offices and a network of independent contractors," Becher said.

It's all done very high tech. "Everything we do is electronic," Becher said. "There are no paper forms." Clients can submit information from the website, and employers can send a link to job applicants to upload their information.

"We need to get those reports done as fast as possible, and this saves a lot of time," said Becher. In the past, a background check could take weeks and a lot of legwork. Today, turnaround time is 24-72 hours.

Bouncing back from pandemic lull

TriCor's client companies come in all sizes - from small firms with 10 or fewer employees to large corporations with thousands of workers. "Our clients come from all industries," Becher said.

The requirement for background reports really exploded around 20 years ago. Now around 80% of employers do some sort of background search, Becher said. "Some of it is legal. They want to prevent lawsuits. And part is a desire to protect their assets," he said.

The pandemic hit the background search industry hard. "Companies weren't hiring, so it really affected us," Becher said. As COVID-19 has waned and restrictions are lifted, "we are starting to come back," he said. "We're about 80% back."

To learn more about TriCor, visit tricorinfo.com.

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