Our Company Background - About Us | Kelly

Celebrating 75 years

How it all started

Kelly was founded by William R. Kelly in 1946 with two employees to meet local business needs. In the beginning, we offered Michigan-based office services—which soon expanded to include light industrial and electronic assembly staffing support across the country. Over the past 75 years, our range of specialty solutions and geographic coverage has grown exponentially.

Today, Kelly operates as five specialty business units—laser-focused on our clients’ and candidates’ needs. We partner with both global and local companies, and have a robust, global talent and supplier network. Our Equity@Work initiative stands to knock down unjust barriers to employment—because we believe more people deserve the opportunity to find meaningful work.

Our journey

Check out how we’ve grown:

  • 1946 – William R. Kelly opens a service bureau in Detroit.
  • 1953 – Sales exceed $1 million.
  • 1960s – Kelly expands to place thousands each year in light industrial, marketing, and technical roles.
  • 1972 – First European office opens in Paris, France.
  • 1973 – Sales exceed $100 million.
  • 1979 – Kelly has offices in all 50 states.
  • 1986 – Sales exceed $1 billion.
  • 1995 – Kelly is first listed on the Fortune 500®.
  • 1996 – Establishes the industry’s first MSP program; now manages $7.2 billion in MSP spend.
  • 1997 – Kelly opens 1,500th field office, and 500th Partnered Staffing office.
  • 1999 – Kelly launches specialized lines: Kelly Engineering Resources, Kelly IT Resources, Kelly Healthcare Resources, and Kelly Educational Staffing.
  • 2006 – Kelly acquires the Ayers Group™, a New York-based career management firm.
  • 2007 – Kelly now operates in many countries and territories and realigns into three global regions.
  • 2015 – One million workers are connected with employment opportunities through our staffing solutions and talent supply chain network of supplier partners.
  • 2017 – Kelly acquires Teachers On Call®, expanding K-12 market presence.
  • 2018 – Aligned with focusing on specialty solutions, Kelly Healthcare Resources is sold to InGenesis® and Kelly Legal Managed Services (KLMS) is sold to Trustpoint.One®.
  • 2019 – Kelly expands engineering and telecom footprint with the acquisitions of Global Technology Associates, LLC and NextGen Global Resources, LLC.
  • 2020 – Kelly transitions to a specialty talent company focused on five unique business units: Science, Engineering, Technology & Telecom; Education; Professional & Industrial; Outsourcing & Consulting; and International.
  • 2020 – Kelly acquires Insight®, expanding its education specialty business. Greenwood/Asher & Associates is also acquired, moving Kelly® Education into the higher education space.
  • 2020 – CEO Peter Quigley works to end systemic barriers to employment by unveiling a new company initiative, Equity@Work.
  • 2021 – Kelly celebrates its 75th anniversary as a global workforce solutions company.
  • 2021 – Kelly acquires technology staffing and solutions firm, Softworld—furthering the specialty strategy and growth of Kelly Science, Engineering, Technology & Telecom.
  • 2022 – For a fifth consecutive year, Kelly is named to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2021 Corporate Equality Index, scoring 100 on the annual assessment.
  • 2022 – Kelly reduced its ownership interest in PersolKelly, Pte. Ltd., the staffing joint venture established between Kelly and Persol .
  • 2022 – Kelly strengthens its RPO practice with the acquisition of RocketPower, a Silicon Valley provider of RPO and other outsourced talent solutions.
  • 2022 – Kelly expands education business through the acquisition of Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS).

Awards and recognition

We’ve been recognized for our quality processes, management practices, supplier diversity, and community involvement. View our recent awards and recognitions here.