Our Story

Our Story

Learn more about our company’s journey since our founding in 2001 to today.

Our Vision

Herd Freed Hartz’s journey began on July 4, 2001 when Jim Herd, Paul Freed and Kevin Hartz founded this executive search firm in Seattle.  What began as friendship connections through recruiting led to taking the leap of faith by filling a missing void in the executive search world in the Northwest.

The vision was to partner closely with Northwest headquartered companies on nationwide searches to quickly find great talent.   Knowing culture fit is often a root cause for mis-hires, they realized the importance to listen and understand each company’s unique story.  Hard work and some recruiting secret sauce led to clients coming back and hiring us again for other functional leadership roles because they shared “you get us.”

As a founding team, we also valued family and work-life balance.  We wanted to create a company culture that valued delivering excellence mixed with time-off and volunteering in the community to get recharged and give back to our community.

While this was 23 years ago, these founding reasons are still the same foundational things today.


To add to the leap of faith of a startup venture, Jim’s wife was pregnant with their first chid and Kevin’s wife was pregnant with twins (their first kids) during the first year.   What could go wrong with a great idea?  Well, a few months later, 9/11 happened.  This was a gut shot for all Americans, but impacting hiring and recruiting for a few months while companies figured out what this meant.   We were honored to be on the cover of Puget Sound Business Journal as they felt our recruiting story and the tech scene were drivers of jobs and innovation. 

We were grateful to those few initial clients who gave us the opportunity to help them and took a risk on hiring the “new” executive search firm.   Initially we were just tracking 1-2 searches on a small whiteboard.  Then that got filled up.  So we got a bigger white board to track more searches.  We learned about this new recruiting platform called Linkedin in 2004 and began using it’s power.  

While our initial focus was around the Technology industry with the booming tech scene in Seattle in 2001-08, inbound inquiries would come in from other industries which led to building out practice areas across a mix of industry verticals today (Portfolio) link.   

Symbolically, our first office was on a houseboat office in Fremont on Lake Union.  It came with a kayak and great water views, but also some inconveniences.  This was quirky, lacked good heat and AC. Basically, the ideal startup location for the three of us which fit our innovative tech startup scene we were supporting.


The 2008 recession stalled the Technology hiring and was our first big test of grit.  We had a few months of no clients or income.  But instead of folding up like a majority of recruiters did that year, we decided to double down and invest in the business for the long-term as we knew this was temporary and hiring would come back.   

We expanded into other industry verticals who were looking for a Northwest search partner such as Healthcare (Premera / Delta Dental), Manufacturing (Oberto / Dairygold), Non Profit (The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation / YMCA) and Consumer/Retail (REI / T-Mobile) clients.

We also hiring great recruiting talent to build out the team to take advantage of the hiring rebound: Scott Rabinowitz, Fred Pabst, Karen Bertiger, Chris Blais and Ryan Biancofiori.  We were honored to have them join our team and add their recruiting depth of experience.  

We opened up our Oregon office to better serve clients in that region as well (and continue to have a strong Oregon track record and office).

Symbolically, we were located in Two Union Square as we moved into the heart of downtown Seattle with a great view of the Space Needle and all the construction cranes from our office.


Building on this foundation, we continually innovated to find new approaches to attract talent in a red-hot job market to look at every step of the recruiting process to inspire and deliver best practices.   With 1000+ searches across 400+ clients since 2001 – we’ve learned insights on what works and have built a strong network you can take advantage of.

We also launched our Art of Recruiting consulting strategy practice to help small to midsize companies hire more effectively. This led to national speaking and podcast interviews around this best practice including Top Recruiter and Art of Recruiting Docufilm.   As a trusted recruiting partner, we also launched our CEO & Board advisory consulting with a mix of clients.

We continue to look at innovation with leveraging the latest technology tools, behavioral assessments, AI efficiencies and search online portal to have a great client experience.  

We’ve continued to add to the team with Grace Medina, Liliane Lendvai and Ross Fletcher joining our story and capabilities to serve our clients even better. 

We were honored to be named “Top Executive Search Firm in the Northwest” by Forbes magazine reflecting our journey.

Symbolically, our office during this season is now in the Columbia Center with a great view from floor 71.   Clients often will enjoy stopping by for a confidential strategy meeting, interviews or just to meet up and head to Columbia Tower Club to catch up.