Jerry Brewer, Entrepreneur Behind StaffMark Inc., Dies at 81

Jerry Brewer, Entrepreneur Behind StaffMark Inc., Dies at 81
Jerry Brewer

Jerry Brewer, the entrepreneur who brought StaffMark Inc. of Fayetteville to international prominence, died Sunday at age 81.

Brewer oversaw a company that at one point had more than 300 offices in 12 countries and more than $1 billion in annual revenue. He and his oldest son Clete ran the company as chairman and CEO, respectively.

StaffMark wasn't Brewer's first business venture. After a stint in banking, he started his own real estate and property management firm with his wife Kay in Baytown, Texas. In 1986, he moved back to his hometown of Fayetteville and bought a staffing agency that he renamed Brewer Personnel Services Inc.

Clete left a job at a Houston software firm to join his father. The duo soon acquired five other companies, and together founded StaffMark. The company went public in 1996.

Rob Janes, former executive vice president of acquisitions at StaffMark, said the elder Brewer was a natural fit for the "people business" of staffing. 

"Jerry’s people skills in associate recruiting, customer development and building a cooperative culture with the internal employees were truly exceptional," said Janes, now managing director at Stephens Capital Partners LLC of Little Rock. "In addition, we had six ownership groups of private companies come together at once, which took a lot of patient listening and explaining. Jerry was so good with that aspect as well — and people just naturally trusted him."

Brewer was known by many employees as "coach," a nod to the guidance and support he offered.

Janes said Brewer was "a special person who took great pleasure in seeing StaffMark employees of all different job types be successful."

"Even today, I think of Jerry when I remind myself to slow down during a business day and really enjoy the personal camaraderie of my co-workers or current/potential outside business partners," he said.

After his retirement in 2000, Brewer's philanthropy helped inspire new generations of entrepreneurs. Donations from him and his wife helped create the Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub at the University of Arkansas.

Brewer is survived by Kay, Clete and his youngest son Chad. 

A visitation will be held at 12:30 p.m. Friday at Nelson-Berna Funeral Home in Fayetteville. The burial service will be private.

The family said memorials can made to the Broyles Foundation, which supports Alzheimer’s caregivers and their families, and Butterfield Trail Village Retirement community, to the attention of "Healthcare Center Fund for Special Care Group."