STERLING – VeriFacts, the downtown’s largest employer, is preparing for growth that could double its workforce in the next 2 years.
Owners Jim and Sheila Gabler launched the business in 1987, and from humble beginnings, it has become a national leader in data verification services. The company locates people for its clients, most of which are based in the financial services industry.
“When we moved to Sterling, we had two 6-by-8-foot offices in the Midland States building, and the employee base was myself, my wife, and my sister,” Jim Gabler said.
VeriFacts now has 150 full-time employees, and has been preparing its building at 204 First Ave. for its rapidly growing workforce.
“With the new business we’re getting, I can see us adding 100 jobs in the next 12 to 24 months,” President Stephanie Clark said.
Clark had been at the company for 15 years prior to being named president in October 2016. Like Gabler, she was born and raised in Sterling. Helping to create jobs in their hometown has made the success sweeter.
“When I started, we had 20 employees at the Woodlawn building,” Clark said. “It’s been extraordinarily rewarding to see us reach goals we had set 15 years ago.”
Gabler said some remodeling has been done to accommodate more workers. He doesn’t dismiss the possibility of someday moving to a larger space, but says the business has plenty of room for the next growth spurt.
“VeriFacts is always open and receptive to new opportunities, however, at this time, we do not have plans to move,” Gabler said.
Parking space has been a problem for some downtown businesses, but Gabler said it’s adequate for his employee base. He owns two lots near the building, and he has pursued the possibility of acquiring more space near Plainwell Brass.
If VeriFacts did move, it’s unlikely it would leave town.
“We love Sterling, and our employees are happy here,” Gabler said. “We have a family culture here where we have a history of helping our employees and supporting the community.”
Executive Vice President Andrew House also grew up in Sterling. He has acquired perspective from watching the company’s growth during his 11 years there.
“I came back here with my degree from Western Illinois University, and VeriFacts had 30 employees,” House said. “What I really appreciate is that we’ve been able to keep that tight-knit family feel as the company has grown.”
Gabler is technically retired, but still plays an active role in his company. He is adamant about sticking to his philosophy of controlled growth.
“We’re looking for new people every day, but it’s important to make sure they receive the proper training,” Gabler said.
New employees are hired in groups of four to 12 and they are put through 6 weeks of rigorous training. Gabler said VeriFacts is looking for people with strong computer and phone skills, confidence and a desire to grow with the company.