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The path to sustainable growth starts with HR

How Stratford Group’s virtual HR team supported STACS DNA’s long-term business goals


It was when STACS DNA had reached 35 employees that the company’s former president and COO, Jocelyn Tremblay, realized something had to change – and fast.

The now-retired executive had acted as the company’s de facto HR department since its founding in 2001. But it soon became obvious that this arrangement was no longer possible if STACS DNA, which delivers sample tracking solutions for forensics and healthcare, wanted to continue growing.

“I knew we were lacking HR expertise,” Tremblay recalls of the company’s HR situation back in early 2020. “We needed to do things differently to facilitate growth and make sure the company was well-positioned to execute on our long-term business plan, and to do that we needed to set the right structure to allow us to grow.”

Instead of hiring a full-time HR resource, however, STACS DNA engaged Stratford Group’s Virtual and Interim HR Service

Stratford Group provides both tactical and strategic services to ensure all HR activities support the client’s overall business strategy – a unique approach among HR providers.

“It’s more of a business partnership,” says Pierre Côté, practice lead for Interim and Virtual HR Services at Stratford Group, who worked closely with Tremblay and the rest of the STACS DNA team for around 18 months – both before and following the company’s acquisition by Baltimore-based InVita Healthcare Technologies in 2021. 

“That means really understanding the business, where it’s going, and then putting in place the right people strategy and HR operational support to position the business to meet its objectives and promote a company culture to attract, engage and retain employees.”

A pragmatic HR approach combining tactics and strategy

Despite this heavy emphasis on strategy, however, STACS DNA’s unique situation meant tactical help was required immediately. “When organizations this size want to expand HR, they often don’t know where to start,” explains Côté. 

Tremblay agrees. “We had a number of policy documents to update, some inconsistencies, and some gaps we needed to fill,” he says. “It really shook the foundations for us, because this was all new.”

That’s why Stratford Group’s first step was to conduct a full HR audit and gap analysis, to understand everything about the company’s culture, business plan, people practices and employee engagement. From there, Côté was able to present and execute on an overarching HR roadmap that perfectly aligned with the company’s business goals, while simultaneously executing on the HR operational and tactical requirements. The work provided value to the organization and the partnership deepened. So much so, that Côté was made a permanent member of the exec team, to help provide perspective on the HR considerations when managing the business. 

The value of strategic HR consulting for enterprises of all sizes

Côté says the real value of Stratford Group’s virtual HR services is “value over cost.” Unlike hiring full-time employees, a virtual HR engagement can scale up or down quickly and as needed. A virtual group can also easily bring in the on-demand expertise and capabilities not always readily available with an in-house HR team. 

“It’s a matter of maximizing value for the resources that you’re getting. You’re getting a team of experts that can operate at the strategic level, as well as at the operational level,” Côté says. 

Most full-time HR groups, he says, often become consumed with the day-to-day management of HR and have limited bandwidth – at the expense of the strategic, projects or continuous improvement initiatives. 

“The fine balance of delivering on all of these actives has always been a challenge for HR teams, especially in a fast-paced environment such as STACS DNA,” Côté explains. “But that doesn’t have to happen. With more and more demand on business leaders to attract, retain and engage talent, a strategic business partner with an on-demand team of HR experts can alleviate some of that pressure.” 

Whether providing an entire HR department or helping an HR team deliver on its mandate, a business partner like Stratford Group’s Interim and Virtual HR team can help align HR strategies and practices with the business strategy to enable top business performance.