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Dice not leaving its future up to chance


Free of the heavy debt that led the company to file for bankruptcy protection last year, Dice Inc. is restructured and showing steady growth, according to the president of the Urbandale-based company.

At Dice, the nation’s leading job board for technology professionals, job listings have increased 104 percent in the past year, according to Scot Melland, the company’s president and CEO. A rebound in technology spending in the last 18 months, along with a more diversified client base and expansion into new job markets, is driving the company’s growth, he said.

“We recently entered the engineering market,” Melland said. “We essentially launched that very quietly about eight weeks ago, and already, we’re the No. 2 job board for engineers. We see this as a definite area of growth for us, and we plan to be the No. 1 job board for engineers as well.”

Additionally, Dice now provides security-cleared professionals to the defense industry, which is adding jobs due to the recent increase in defense spending. In the technology job market, Melland said the company is now better prepared for another technology downturn, should it suddenly occur.

“Today, our customer base is much more diversified,” he said. “We have Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 customers, whereas before, many of our clients were the mom-and-pop recruiters who went out of business. We’ve effectively turned around the business, which is what we really expected to be able to do when we completed the restructuring.”

So far this year, company revenue is up 39 percent, customers have increased 47 percent and Dice has added 12 employees in the Des Moines area. Even while under bankruptcy protection, Dice remained the leading job board for technology professionals. But the company had acquired a debt that it could not repay as a result of the tech-sector downturn of recent years. Melland said Dice was paying $5 million per year in interest on $70 million in debt, which hindered any company expansion.

“Essentially, it was a relatively healthy business that had a bad capital structure,” Melland said. “I think that we made it through the bankruptcy itself about as well as any company possibly could have. The good news, coming out of the other side of it, is that we had no debt, and we could take what we were paying in interest payments and put it into building the business, and I think, 12 months later, it’s really paid off for us.”

One of the notable changes for Dice is that it converted from being a publicly traded company to private ownership, which Melland said made more economic sense for a company of its size. Among other things, Dice no longer has to devote time and money to the administrative aspects of being publicly held. Now, he says, the company can focus more on the business and its growth, which may be international in the near future.

“We’re a small company, but we have some pretty big plans moving forward,” Melland said.

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