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'Capt. Cupcake' guides the newly unemployed

Company looks to ease pain of layoffs

Oct. 31, 2012

If there's one thing Craig Pelnar knows, it's the pain of corporate downsizing - because it has happened to him. Twice.

The first time was after 16 years with the company. He went in for a review.

"And 90 seconds later, it was like I had a bullet in my head. My boss said, 'Due to corporate reorganization, your post has been eliminated,' " Pelnar said.

Fast forward 20 years, to the fall of 2010, and it was déjà vu, all over again.

The upheaval was all the motivation Pelnar needed to take his nearly 35 years of human resources experience and start Counseling & Outplacement Group LLC, a job- and life-coaching business.

Pelnar runs the start-up out of his house, a stone's throw from Wauwatosa, near 83rd Street and Lorraine Place. But mostly, he meets clients in coffee shops and delis, connecting quite a bit by phone and email, even Skype, helping with everything from resumes and job searches to career planning and personal development.

These days, Pelnar also contracts directly with downsizing businesses, meeting with employees shortly after they've gotten the bad news.

"I meet with most of them before they've even talked to their families," Pelnar said. "I cry along with them. They call me Captain Cupcake."

His services are often part of severance packages for employees suddenly adrift in an uncertain job market. That's part of the reason Pelnar also offers some emotional support and advice about dealing with the stress of job loss, which he said can erode the best of marriages, wear down the most committed of parents and leave once-confident employees shaken.

"If you've ever been let go once, you never sit in your chair comfortably again," Pelnar said.

His goal is to take clients from a fire to a hire. But he also hopes to help them find a new path, as employees and as people.

"Whatever I do when I'm through with my clients, I want to make sure they're in better shape than when they came to me," Pelnar said.

If you would like to suggest a business to be featured in the Business Spotlight, send an email to news@cninow.com or call (262) 446-6643.

JUST THE FACTS

BUSINESS: Counseling & Outplacement Group

WEB: www.cogllc.biz

PHONE: (414) 774-8315

OWNER: Craig Pelnar

INCORPORATED: 2011

TYPE OF BUSINESS: employment services and life coaching

PEARLS OF WISDOM: "If you've ever been let go once, you never sit in your chair comfortably again."

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