Another year has come and gone. For Abbey Placements, the year 2016 was about growth in market share and professional development in the midst of a manufacturing downturn in Central Illinois. As predicted last year, an employers’ market for hiring occurred in McLean County as a result of the manufacturing downturn. We benefited from a surplus of good workers compared to the rest of the nation, which experienced a talent drought, and we developed accounts with companies who had not historically worked with us. As a result, we have more accounts than ever despite downturns among many of our most established clients.
As we charge into 2017, I hope this review of Abbey Placements’ 2016 will give you insight into the upcoming Central Illinois job market and the ever-evolving best practices of recruiting in Bloomington/Normal.
Leading off, here are a few highlights from our 2016:
- Client Relationships: We had a 12% increase in new client proposals and a 36% increase in our overall number of clients in 2016 compared to 2015. We are also very grateful for all of our long-term clients. Despite several businesses closing this year after Mitsubishi’s departure, we have exciting prospects to follow-up with in January and many reasons to believe sales will increase in 2017.
- Marketing: Our marketing efforts in 2016 centered on attracting new clients and excellent workers. My personal efforts within our community have allowed me to meet many new business and civic leaders. I was honored to have the Bloomington Normal Sunrise Rotary Club recognize me as New Rotarian of the Year, 2015–2016. I also completed my first year as an Ambassador for the McLean County Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, I have been engaged as a member of the NEXT Professionals and BNI and volunteered my time with HOPE worldwide and Friends Forever as a planning committee member. My interaction with these outstanding organizations has been personally rewarding and I look forward to seeing both personal growth and growth for our company as a result.
- Applicants: Our weekly number of applicants was noticeably higher in 2016; in fact, it was overwhelming at times. Due to the sizable increase, we have become more selective about interviewing candidates. Consequently, many excellent candidates may not have been contacted in 2016 if they did not align with the hiring needs of our clients at the time they applied. We encourage excellent applicants to continue applying weekly since our needs change often.
- Office Staff Development: Our personnel have all taken on additional responsibilities and schedules over the course of this past year. As a result, each staff member handles more responsibilities than they did a year ago. I am proud of and grateful for each person on our team.
Manufacturing in Central Illinois
Central Illinois saw Caterpillar terminating nearly 1,000 positions in 2016. In December, they announced additional layoffs for 2017 and predicted a continued decrease in sales. In addition to this, Mitsubishi exited Normal after 30 years, leaving another 1,000+ people unemployed. Abbey Placements felt the downturn of these two companies directly through our clients’ hiring needs and indirectly through the surplus of workers suddenly available. Although it has been a difficult time for manufacturing in Central Illinois overall, two announcements in 2016 have offered hope for 2017.
First, the automotive technology company, Rivian Automotive, announced their intention to buy the Mitsubishi plant and hire 500 employees by 2021. While some controversy surrounds this startup, there is a great deal to gain and very little to lose for our community. In recent times, it is virtually unheard of for manufacturing to return so quickly to a former plant, especially in Illinois. We wish Rivian great success in the future!
Secondly, the Macon County Economic Development Council announced the arrival of the Midwest Inland Port in Decatur. With large investments from companies like OmniTRAX and CN, this multimodal logistics hub and newly created US Customs port will offer downstate Illinois a strong competitive edge in logistics for years to come and hopefully attract new manufacturing to Central Illinois.
With these announcements and the presidential election finally over, we are hopeful that hiring in manufacturing will increase immediately in 2017.
Non-Manufacturing in Central Illinois
Although manufacturing is still the largest segment of our business, Abbey Placements continues to expand into other industries including sales, collections, dental, catering, and logistics. Educating new companies on the benefits of using a staffing company has been especially rewarding for me, if at times challenging, and has allowed us to grow in unexpected ways. I have also greatly enjoyed learning about new industries and the different ways they hire and operate. My hope is that we can continue to diversify in 2017 and become a valuable resource to businesses that may not yet be familiar with us or the many advantages of working with a staffing firm.
Our marketing efforts brought us success in connecting with many quality workers in 2016. We continue to utilize many different search vehicles and our word-of-mouth network, monitoring which tools work well and working with the best candidates from every available source . With so many applicants, sorting through everyone to find the top candidates for the job has been more work than in past years. But we are committed to excellence in matching the right people to the right jobs and continue to get better at making assessments each year.
To our clients, thank you for your continued partnership. We greatly value your business. We pledge to recruit top-quality employees for you to ensure our long-standing relationships.
To our workers, thank you for all your hard work and growth. You are an essential part of the process. We hope to support you in your day to day efforts and in helping, as we are able, to assist you in your career goals.
To our staff, thank you for your daily dedication. You are a dependable and honest group of people who have adapted well during this past year. I hope we have the privilege of teaming together for many years to come.
To my father Ken, the owner of Abbey Placements, thank you for your guidance, your continued belief in our staff and in me. And to my mother Julie, thank you for always being there to help in any way needed, both personally and professionally.
Finally, to God, thank you for your providence. We have prospered through almost 35 years of constant change with you protecting us at every stage of the journey in ways we will never understand.
February 1st, 2017, will mark the 35th Anniversary of Abbey Placements! I am amazed to have been working here for nearly seven years and still excited by the future this business holds for my family and my community. In the year to come, I believe we will see greater prosperity to everyone associated with this company!