WRITTEN BY DAVID BROWN
Growing up in the Garfield Heights public housing project in Pittsburgh, Arlinda Moriarty ‘03 learned the basics of being an entrepreneur. That was before she knew that such a curious word could describe a man like her grandfather. To her, he was Papa.
“He owned Tony Brown’s Auto Service on Penn Avenue in Lawrenceville for 40 years,” Moriarty says. “A lot of people knew Tony Brown’s. I have his picture. It sits on my desk right next to me every day.”
Since starting her own business in 2001, a temporary home health care staffing company, Moriarty has guided Moriarty Consultants Inc. to a level of success that surely would make her grandfather proud. The company has expanded to four offices, with its headquarters in the city’s Observatory Hill neighborhood, employs close to 800 people, and has annual revenues of more than $8 million. Last year Moriarty received the Entrepreneur of the Year award from OWN: The Onyx Woman Network, a communications company that publishes Onyx Woman magazine and is headed by RMU trustee Ola Jackson ‘87.
Watching her grandfather and other family members who shared a spirit of enterprise taught Moriarty lessons that took deep root. “I come from a small family, and we were a family of entrepreneurs from the very beginning of my life. I didn’t realize that’s what they were until I became an adult,” she says. “My father’s mother, Rachel Dickens, ran a little nanny business. While people would go to work, she watched their children.”
Sharon Buford, a long-time business associate, saw an entrepreneurial spark in Moriarty’s zeal for projects. “I encouraged her to start her own business because she was so talented,” says Buford, owner of Buford Enterprises International. “She was doing quite well for this company. I said, `You need to do that for yourself.’” “This is no commercial, but I’ve got to tell you: Robert Morris had a lot to do with it,” says Moriarty, who earned a degree in social science from the university. “They are responsible for more entrepreneurs than you can shake a stick at.”
Moriarty’s largest staffing division is home health care and disability care, where the firm got its start. In recent years, she has diversified into other areas of staffing and created offshoot companies, such as the Moriarty Institute, which trains her employees for a broader range of jobs. A licensed and bonded employment agency, Moriarty Consultants has a tandem goal of helping people become employable through job training. And the company helps employees work out personal snags, such as finding affordable day care and transportation to and from the job. “We are a for-profit agency with a nonprofit heart,” Moriarty says. “I must take care of my employees because my employees take care of my customers.”
“She’s a guardian angel to so many people,” says Ruth Gregory, the company’s executive secretary. “She will do anything it takes to keep the company going. She has done it all, from the phones, to taking care of consumers, to going to battle with the state over things. She is Moriarty Consultants, Inc. She comes to work in her scrubs with her sleeves rolled up, or in her suit ready to go to a meeting with the state.”