CDI Corporation


Silhouettes of Business People Inside the Office


CDI Corporation was founded in 1950 to address the changing needs of American business.  The company offered an alternative way to staff critical engineering and technology projects without incurring the overhead associated with direct employees.  Originally known as Comprehensive Designers, Inc., CDI hired  engineers and draftsman for client companies on a temporary basis to create a more flexible workforce.  CDI was among the first to offer temporary technical resources to manufacturing companies.

New Ownership

In 1956, Comprehensive Designers, Inc. hired a 30-year-old engineer from Boeing Airplane Company,  Walter R. Garrison.  In two years, he rose from chief engineer to vice president and director.  By 1961, Garrison and his family owned 45% of the company.  He and two colleagues bought the remainder of CDI’s shares of stock and began to grow the company.   Seeing opportunity as post-war industrialization surged, the trio took the company public and began a decade-long marketing push in the aerospace industry while acquiring several companies to expand its portfolio to include infrastructure, automotive and high-tech.  Assignments won in 1969 for the U.S. Navy established CDI as a key defense industry resource.


In the 1970s, CDI continued its expansion and rise as a national leader in providing engineering services. In 1971, the acquisition of Stubbs, Overbeck and Associates, Inc. established CDI’s presence in the oil, gas and chemical industry. Next, CDI established in-house engineering facilities where outsourced projects could be completed under supervision of CDI managers from start to finish. In many instances, this approach was more productive and cost efficient than simply providing contract professionals sending workers to client locations where they might have little familiarity with the project and have to start from scratch. This business model continued to expand to the point where almost half close to 40% of CDI’s work was performed in house from within.

In 1972, CDI acquired the recruiting firm, Management Recruiters International. MRI grew quickly and established franchise offices across the country.

In 1973, the company’s name was officially changed to CDI Corporation. Soon after, CDI became involved with projects in the design of nuclear and fossil fuel electrical generating equipment, as well as in other areas of the power industry a floating offshore nuclear power generating facility.

1980s and 1990s

Global competition was on the rise as CDI entered its fourth decade. With it came urgency in the marketplace to bring new products to market faster. The automotive industry became CDI’s largest market as the company combined its engineering and design expertise with the assembly line capabilities of partner company, ASC Incorporated. The duo developed specialty vehicles with production volumes of almost 40,000 per year. In 1982, a feature article in “Forbes” magazine described CDI as the “Kelly Boys” of the engineering marketplace, focusing on the company’s pioneering approach to outplacement services. CDI’s annual revenue climbed towards the $1 billion mark and the company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1988.

Throughout the 90s, CDI invested in its staffing services with the acquisitions of Today’s Temps, and eventually in London-based AndersElite. CDI’s Management Recruiters business added contract staffing and outplacement to its portfolio of recruiting services. These new offerings were branded InterExec―placing executive and middle-management talent on a contract basis and Career Pathways.

CDI expanded other components of its business and began partnering with its clients to provide functions that complemented its traditional services, like establishing and managing entire departments. The company further expanded its capabilities and presence in the oil and gas industry, and capitalized on growing demand for computer and technology expertise.

In 1997 after implementing a series of new business strategies, existing multi-million dollar contracts were renewed, internet-based recruiting began via a partnership with, and new offices opened in Mexico, Scotland, and Ireland.

In 1999, CDI acquires Asset Computer Personnel Ltd. (ACP), a Toronto, Canada-based provider of temporary and permanent information technology staffing services to broaden CDI's North American geographical coverage, enabling it to better respond to demand from its existing multi-national clients while providing relationships with large multi-national customers not currently served by CDI.

21st Century

With the millennium came new opportunity. Competition in the marketplace for skilled labor intensified and CDI responded with CDI University — 24×7 online training, skills development, performance support and professional development designed to deliver highly qualified talent for clients.

In 2001, a global aerospace leader signed a multi-million dollar contract with CDI to design landing gear for one of the world’s largest commercial aircraft.

In 2010, CDI acquired professional infrastructure service provider, L.R. Kimball Company. The company also developed large-scale oil and gas plants in the U.S. opening the door to similar work in China. CDI also designed and constructed one of the largest polysilicon manufacturing facilities in the U.S.

CDI Corporation Provides Services Through:

Engineering Solutions

Provides a full range of core engineering design services and business solutions for the Oil, Gas & Chemical, Aerospace & Industrial Equipment, Infrastructure, and Government Services industries. CDI offers solutions that allow clients to manage their workload by project or by function.

Staffing Services

CDI provides a full range of contingent workforce management solutions to enable a more flexible, agile workforce and increase our clients’ competitive advantage.  CDI advises clients on how to take advantage of contingent workforce planning as a part of their overall strategic plan.

Technology Solutions

CDI provides a distinct set of information technology solutions to optimize our clients’ IT operations, reduce overall IT costs, improve service levels and free up capital for strategic investment. Our consultative, tailored approach allows CDI to be a business partner with our clients.


CDI Also Provides Staffing Through:


MRINetwork, a subsidiary of CDI Corporation, is one of the largest recruitment organizations in the world, with a network of 2,500 search professionals and nearly 600 independently owned franchise offices across 40 countries that provide a full range of staffing options, ranging from retained or contingency search, to contract staffing and recruitment process outsourcing solutions.


AndersElite is CDI’s professional services staffing business in the UK, providing permanent, temporary and contract recruitment services for a wide variety of clients primarily in the construction and transportation  industries.


Asset is one of the top IT staffing resources in Canada, successfully placing over 10,000 professionals into over 3000 companies in both permanent and contract roles.