George Konik Associates, an Edina-based personnel recruitment firm started in the 1970s by a hockey star-turned-engineer, is acquiring PrimeStaff, uniting two of the Twin Cities' leading technical staffing ­companies.

The merged company will be known as Konik PrimeStaff and have about 20 full-time employees, the firms announced Monday. Terms were not disclosed.

Though rivals, the principals of the firms for years have been on good terms and regularly met to talk about the local hiring scene, said Brad Konik, son of George Konik and owner of the business since 2000. "We would get together to compare notes," Konik said. "We've done some partnering with them on some searches here and there."

Konik focuses chiefly on finding permanent hires for its corporate ­clients, while Shoreview-based PrimeStaff has a larger business providing employees on a contract basis. Both focus on engineers, architects, designers and other specialists. Konik gets about one-fifth of its revenue recruiting IT staffers.

Earlier this year, PrimeStaff partners Kathy Carlsen and Troy Harper mentioned to Konik they were considering succession ideas, and Konik said he might be interested in buying their business.

"What made this click was the integrity with both ­parties involved," Harper said. "Integrity is what makes you a long-term player in this business."

As they considered a deal, the owners compared client lists and found an overlap of just 15 percent. "That was a pleasant surprise," Harper said.

He and Carlsen started PrimeStaff 20 years ago after working together for several years at another recruitment firm. They plan to continue working on a part-time basis for the next year at Konik PrimeStaff, Harper said.

The deal comes at a busy time for the firms and technical staffing in general. Engineers, architects, software developers and other technical-skills specialists are in high demand. "The employment market is as strong as I've seen in 20 years," Konik said.

He joined his father's company in 1997 and bought it three years later. George Konik, who died last year, was a Manitoba native who came to Minnesota near the end of his hockey career. He was an All-America defenseman at Denver University, played professionally for the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the old World Hockey Association and then became an electrical engineer at Honeywell before starting the company in 1974.