Since 1953, Halo Branded Solutions has been an integral part of the economy of Northwest Illinois. The company’s recent expansion, including construction of a new corporate headquarters, and plans to double its workforce in Sterling Illinois, are testament to its commitment to continued growth in the area.
Halo handles promotional items for a wide range of national and local clients and has no plans to relocate from the community in which it all began 65 years ago. In addition to its 350 employees in Sterling, the company has 1,200 sales representatives and 25 sales offices scattered across the U.S., as well as distribution centers in Houston and on Long Island, N.Y.
“It all starts with employees,” said Terry McGuire, Halo’s senior vice president for marketing and communications. “We have an extremely good education system in Sterling and substantial investments have been made in that area. We also have a community college nearby, which helps us attract business. But we have extremely good employees in this area – great employees.”
Halo credits an exceptional educational system for providing high-quality employees who share a Midwest work ethic valued by employers.
“I can’t speak enough about the quality of our schools. We have a nationally recognized school district, a vocational center, and an area community college. Residents in our area are well-educated and 'job-ready' because of the collaboration between our educational institutions and local business." - Terry McGuire
Acquired in mid-2018 by TPG Growth, a private equity firm with more than $82 million in working capital, Halo Branded Solutions is positioned for acquisitions that can help it gain market share in an industry that is rapidly consolidating.
“We are anticipating growing at an accelerated rate,” McGuire explained. “There is a great deal of consolidation in recognition and promotional product markets and we are uniquely positioned with our capital backing to take advantage of that.”
That confidence in the future led Halo to consolidate its facilities in Whiteside County in 2017, moving from three buildings totaling 90,000 square feet into a sparkling new 157,000-square-foot headquarters in which employees played a role in the design. “Anytime you move into new facilities, it boosts morale,” McGuire said. “The mood of our employees is exceptional, and everybody is really happy.”
Halo employees also are bolstered by a region that sports numerous parks and waterways, new hiking and biking trails and other recreational opportunities that contribute to an unrivaled quality of life in Northwest Illinois, McGuire added.
“They are honest, have high-integrity and don’t have to deal with a great deal of external stress such as traffic and crime that urban workers have to address,” he said. “They are generally happy and grateful. We have a national sales force and client base and often receive the feedback that people cannot believe how helpful and honest our employees are. A great quality of life in general is reflected directly in your job. Our employees are happy and it shows.”
Halo was encouraged to expand its facilities and grow its workforce to 500 employees through Enterprise Zone incentives and assistance from local economic development partners. “Working with our economic development team, we made a commitment to double our workforce to 500 employees within five years, and we believe we’ll safely meet that goal,” McGuire said. “Economic incentives were extremely important in our decision to expand in Northwest Illinois.”
Halo CEO Marc Simon told local media that the company was pleased with its progress and expansion and would be a part of the landscape of Northwest Illinois for the foreseeable future. “Illinois is a great place to do business,” Simon said. “We’re in the center of the country. We’re a transportation center. We’re a financial center. There’s no compelling reason for us to look at moving the business anywhere else.”