Tom and Elizabeth Pentenburg return to northwestern Ohio to enhance Spherion’s staffing services in the region


When Tom Pentenburg first approached former Spherion franchisee Bob Schulte in the mid-2000s about opening a Spherion Staffing & Recruiting franchise, Bob told Tom he might be a little crazy. 

“The economy was rough at the time. The stock market was declining while the prices of things like gasoline were increasing rapidly,” Tom recalls. “But Bob and his wife Grace took me to lunch anyway, told me about the staffing industry and Spherion, and convinced me that franchising with Spherion was the way to go if I wanted to open my own business.”

It was that success and trust in the Spherion brand—trust that even in tough economic times, starting a Spherion staffing business was still a good investment—that led Tom and his wife Elizabeth to open their first Spherion franchise in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 2009. 

Bob and Grace kept in touch with Tom and Elizabeth over the years. They shared business contacts and strategies. The Schultes often assisted the Pentenburgs during their start-up years. Tom later served on the Schultes’ business advisory board.

Now, 14 years after the two families connected through business, the Pentenburgs are purchasing the Schulte family’s network of Spherion Staffing offices to continue their legacy of building a top staffing and temp services agency in northwestern Ohio. It’s a full-circle moment for Tom, who grew up in Lima, Ohio, and has built a successful network of 10 full-service staffing and recruiting offices, as well as seven on-site staffing locations across Indiana and Kentucky.

“Faith and family is how Bob and Grace built their Spherion business. Elizabeth and I are doing the same. We treat every potential candidate and client we meet the same as we would treat our family,” Tom says. “We’re staying invested in Ohio’s communities and plan to capitalize on the synergies created between our network of local staffing agencies to help each community continue growing. It will be a privilege to carry on the Spherion legacy that the Schultes created.”

“Dad and Tom were good friends and became supportive franchise owners within Spherion,” says Karen Grothouse, one of Bob and Grace’s daughters, who stepped up to help lead her family’s business after Bob passed away in 2022. “My dad wanted to see Tom succeed as a fellow son of Lima and fellow Spherion franchisee.”

The Schultes were long-time Spherion franchisees whose locations had been operating successfully for more than 50 years at that point. Bob opened his first staffing agency in Lima in 1962 with the help of Grace, a registered nurse, four years after they married in 1958. Together with the help of their four children —Karen, Bob, Patty, and Lynn—the Schulte family built a regional network of Interim Personnel and Interim Healthcare offices, which later became Spherion offices. Their Ohio-based staffing agencies provide essential staffing services for workers and employers in Bellefontaine, Dayton, Findlay, Lima, Sidney, and St. Marys.  

Today, Karen and Lynn, Bob and Grace’s children are still actively involved in their parents’ franchises but wish to take a step back. 

“Our family has built this business over many decades and has enjoyed so much success along the way. What do you do with your business when it’s time to move on?” Karen asks. “How can the work you’ve done and the legacy your family has built survive? 

The solution: “You can pass it on to another franchise owner who cares about the brand as much as your family did,” she continues. “Plus, we’re confident that Spherion’s franchise team will ensure the business transitions smoothly, the way they always do when a franchise owner is ready to step back from Spherion and move to their next chapter. They trust that Tom and his family will improve and grow the business as much as we did.”

“Bob and Grace were two of the most generous, hardworking, and kindhearted people I’ve had the privilege of knowing,” says Spherion Group President Rebecca Rogers Tijerino. “To see the Schulte and Pentenburg families grow from professional acquaintances to trusted colleagues, and now to caretakers of an incredible business legacy that impacts northwestern Ohio and beyond, is more than we could ask for. I’m confident they will continue bettering these communities for years to come.”

“The Schulte family has built an excellent reputation over the years for reliable staffing services in Ohio. We want to uphold and enhance that,” Tom adds.

There are a lot of similarities between the Schultes’ and Pentenburgs’ Spherion experiences. Bob started his staffing business when he was about 45 with his wife and four young children. Tom started his first Spherion office in Fort Wayne when he was 45 with his wife and four young kids, as well. All of the Schulte children were involved in their family business at one point, and all four Pentenburg children work at various family-owned Spherion locations today. 

“Our experience franchising with Spherion would not be as successful as it has been without Bob and Grace,” Tom says.

“Spherion is a family made up of many family businesses,” he continued. “When you work in an industry as personal as staffing, having a mutually supportive franchise community like Spherion is essential to running our business. Because what’s more personal than helping people decide how they’ll earn a paycheck to put food on their table and a roof over their head?”

The Pentenburg family officially acquired the Schultes’ locations on July 31. They plan to retain all six Ohio-based offices, including many long-time staff members, some of whom have worked with Spherion’s local clients and job seekers for almost two decades. The Pentenburgs intend to maintain as much continuity as possible while bringing years of combined experience among their existing staff and fresh expertise over the state border. 

“We’re blending the two businesses and keeping the best elements of both,” Tom explains. 

Thanks to a solid foundation and a well-deserved reputation for staffing excellence, there’s no doubt the Schulte legacy will continue under the Pentenburgs. With their unwavering commitment to strategic expansion and the success of their local communities, Spherion looks forward to seeing the organization thrive under the steady yet dynamic leadership of this family.

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Kelly Clark headshot
Kelly Clark headshot

Kelly Clark

Senior Manager for Digital Marketing