Ask any female gymnast, past or present: What matters the most in a difficult balance beam routine?
“Easy,” she’d likely tell you. “Sticking your routine. It is the event that requires the most mental focus and a minor fumble can make or break your performance. It’s all about maintaining control and leveraging your flexibility with a balance of grace, strength, and power.”
Charlie Saffro, 43, learned these lessons countless times as a self-taught gymnast growing up. Without any formal training prior to high school, Saffro relied on self-discipline and diligence to “connect the dots and figure it out” before awing spectators in the Deerfield High School gym where she competed as a varsity gymnast in the 1990s.
She’s still connecting, still taking on challenges, still impressing teammates—only now she’s doing it as the highly passionate President and Founder of CS Recruiting. Saffro started the company with an office in her current hometown of Highland Park and today, Saffro and her team of 35 employees continue to thrive in a virtual office environment.
CS Recruiting, launched in 2011, is an Executive recruiting firm that specializes in the Supply Chain, Logistics, and Transportation industries. Saffro and her team work with manufacturers, retailers, trucking companies, warehouse service providers, and technology platforms to help organizations identify the right person for their niche hiring needs.
It is the mission of CS Recruiting to make meaningful connections to empower and inspire others to discover their full potential.
“I started the company on my own, but I never saw myself becoming a manager, so I spent the first several years working as an employee at my own firm,” says Saffro, who majored in marketing at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where she met her future husband, Chad, a Highland Park High School graduate. “There are managers, and there are leaders. You can be good at one, not so good at the other. True leadership, to me, is treating people as humans. It’s that simple. I respect my colleagues and want all of them to have a voice,” Saffro explains.
“Nothing means more to me than establishing a positive culture at CS Recruiting and growing together from there. Happy people are productive people, right?”
Beth Herberholz has been happy—make that, ecstatic—since her Day One at CS Recruiting ten years ago. Herberholz rose through the ranks serving in a variety of roles before being named Vice President of the firm in 2020.
Herberholz joined the team as the company’s first employee, and as a fellow athlete, she appreciated the dichotomy of recruiting; where she could be a recognized independent contributor but also part of a growing team and something bigger. She quickly recognized the opportunity to progress her career by taking on more difficult tasks and building character through a myriad of business challenges that have shaped her into the executive she is today.
All because of Charlie Saffro.
“Charlie,” Herberholz says, “is a true connector. One of her best qualities and she has many admirable ones, is her willingness to give opportunities to others. And she fully understands her clients’ needs and cares about developing business relationships. But I’m having the ride of my life professionally because of how well Charlie connects with me and my colleagues. I’m looking at two cards on my desk, as we speak. She likes to regularly send them to all of us. Each has a motivational quote,” explains Herberholz.
The daughter of entrepreneurs, Saffro got her first waitressing job at the age of … 12. Twelve! An older cousin needed Saffro to help her out at a diner in Highwood one summer day. The grade-schooler put on an apron and poured coffee for policemen and firemen on her first day.
“I got a minimal allowance as a kid, and I was okay with that,” says Saffro, who shares three sons (Madden, 14; Cameron, 12; and Jett, 10) with Chad, who now serves as an Executive Advisor to CS Recruiting. “I worked and studied and competed in gymnastics in high school. I will always be grateful for the way my parents raised me,” notes Saffro.
“Their big thing to me was, ‘You’re welcome to buy things, as long as you work to pay for them.’”
Her first major purchase cost $200. She bought a balance beam. Saffro placed the apparatus in her basement and negotiated atop it until her feet hurt. Or until it was time to go to bed.
Remember, she had no formal training in the sport, which made her achievements and recognition as the Conference balance beam champ all the more impressive.
“I worked hard as a gymnast. I work just as hard at my job today,” says Saffro, who worked for her husband’s logistics technology company, Real Time Freight in Chicago, before forming CS Recruiting. “If you’re looking for a theme in my life, there it is. I taught myself routines in gymnastics, and I taught myself how to recruit in an industry I never imagined myself in.”
But she’s as committed to her family as she is to her company. Balance. The other theme in Charlie Saffro’s life.
While Saffro’s career in gymnastics has been laid to rest, she gains mental clarity and physical strength through her daily yoga and meditation practice. As a mom of three, Saffro cherishes this quiet time and the guaranteed opportunity to slow down and breathe before the chaos begins.
“I’ve seen Charlie around her kids,” Herberholz says. “I’ve seen her around her friends. Her sons are her good friends, too. She’s extremely friendly and open in their presence, just like she is with us at work. She’s the cool mom.”
For more information, visit cs-recruiting.com.