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Nursefinders' competition? Nursefinders


Franchisees of temporary nurse staffing firm Nursefinders—what's left of them, anyway—have filed a pair of lawsuits claiming the company's recent expansions have left them at a competitive disadvantage against their own franchisor.

Franchisees claim Nursefinders' purchases of two competing health care staffing agencies, and its purchase last year by Goldman Sachs, have pitted franchisor against franchisee when placing temporary health care workers. 

"If I'm a member of the Minnesota Vikings, the Chicago Bears can compete with me, the Minnesota Vikings can't," said the franchisees' attorney Scott Korzenowski, of Dady and Garner. "If I get past all the Chicago Bears and I'm running for a touchdown, I don't expect one of the Vikings to come off the bench to tackle me."

The lawsuit comes at a time it appears Nursefinders is moving away from franchising. In 1992, according to the lawsuit, 61 of the 105 Nursefinders offices were franchise owned. Today, only 16 of 120 offices are franchises, and only five people own those 16 franchises, Korzenowski said. While the company has been buying up franchises in recent years, it doesn't appear to be actively selling any new ones, he added.

A Nursefinders spokeswoman would not comment on the lawsuit or its franchising plan. In a written statement, the company said, "Nursefinders has enjoyed a long, successful and positive relationship with our franchise owners. We value these relationships and expect that to continue."

That relationship might not last long. The lawsuit was filed in January after franchisees and Nursefinders failed to settle the dispute. "They should have bought the franchisees out, which is something they would have talked to them about," Korzenowski said. 

Nursefinders has been expanding for more than two years. In 2005 the company bought two health care staffing firms, Linde Healthcare and Kendall & Davis.

A year later it bought Club Staffing, a competitor that provides temporary health care workers. Then, last year, Goldman Sachs and other investment groups bought Nursefinders and combined it with its own health staffing agencies, NHS and TVL Healthcare. 

The acquired companies frequently use Nursefinders in their name, according to the lawsuit. 

To the franchisees, the companies' use of the Nursefinders name means the franchisees can no longer claim the exclusive use in their area as they solicit business from hospitals or recruit nurses. That makes recruitment more difficult and hurts business, Korzenowski said. "They have to compete with the very name they helped develop in their area. The franchisor is now working to generate business in the territory only to benefit the franchisor," he said.

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