Onshore Outsourcing finds high-tech talent in rural Missouri


By Karen Buschmann

Shane Mayes likes to buck trends. At a time when many companies have outsourced IT services overseas, Onshore Outsourcing’s founder and CEO has built his business by bringing those jobs back to the United States. Most IT executives would overlook communities like Macon as a viable location for a high-tech business or unskilled rural residents as a sustainable workforce, but Mayes made those assets the foundation of his business.

“We help people see beyond their current situation toward a better way of life,” Mayes said of his management style. The company provides intense training that turns people who are underemployed, are dislocated, or have little or no college education into code writers who provide software development and IT support for Fortune 500 clients such as Panera Bread, Boeing, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, CareSource and Jones Lange LaSalle.

“We take people out of fast food restaurants and into careers,” Mayes said. “We are creating a new knowledge economy in rural Missouri.”

That employee investment is fueling growth for Onshore. Founded in 2005, the company today employs 400. According to Mayes, it is on track to double its size over the next decade.

But making it onto the Onshore payroll is no easy task. A Gulf War veteran, Mayes modeled his applicant training on military boot camp. The rigorous eight-week training program challenges applicants to test their limits.

“My thought is, if this is going to change somebody’s life, if coming to work here is going to be a life-changing event, then it ought to be difficult,” Mayes said. “It’s about getting people to find their boundaries, to find their potential. When I was in boot camp, I was encouraged to push past my limits, and I’m very thankful for that experience.”

The payoff is worth the pain. In addition to good wages, Onshore provides good benefits. The company subsidizes employees’ college expenses. Onshore also plans to eventually provide subsidized child care at an early childhood education center that will be located on its campus.

Onshore has had a significant impact on Macon and the surrounding area. Before 2005, Macon County had some of the highest unemployment rates in the state. Today, unemployment has stabilized, which can be attributed largely to Onshore, the second-biggest employer in the county. That makes the $52,000 revolving loan that was provided by the city of Macon to fund the early stages of the business a very good investment.

The community was willing to invest in Onshore, and Mayes is proud to return dividends to the area by providing more jobs and opportunities for his workers. His workforce shares that loyalty, and it shows in Onshore’s retention rates, which are far above industry averages.

“My friends are here. My family is here. This is where I am raising my children,” Mayes said. “I love being in rural Missouri, and my employees do too. That’s why Onshore has such strong employee retention rates. People in rural America want to stay in rural America. You don’t see that type of retention in the cities, and that makes investment in these employees so much more valuable.”

Seeing the difference Onshore Outsourcing is making to rural families means a lot to Mayes.

“That people feel that they are part of something here is what gives me the most satisfaction as a business owner,” Mayes said.

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