MILAN, IL — The Quad City Times
GRACE KINNICUTT [email protected]
Finding solutions is part of the job.
Democratic Congressional Rep. Eric Sorensen, who represents Illinois’ 17th District, toured the Group O Marketing Solutions headquarters Wednesday, Aug. 23.
Located in Milan, the company is a business outsourcer provider that specializes in areas such as marketing services, print management, business analytics, managed services, packaging and supply chain management.
“Being the congressman for a company like Group O is an honor,” Sorensen said.
Vice President of Operations Paul Flemr led the tour, showing Sorensen everything from the call center to the way back where a packaging warehouse is located. Flemr said the company provides services to dozens of top name companies. The two largest companies Group O provides marketing services for are Michelin and AT&T.
Other companies which use Group O marketing services include ComEd, Samsung, Nicor Gas and PepsiCo.
“We take great pride in the diversity of services and many needs we offer here,” Flemr said.
Sorensen also got a sneak peak of a Nicor energy kit that was in a row of other energy kits waiting to be packed and shipped off.
The congressman asked how things changed at the company since the pandemic, forcing a majority of personnel across the nation to work from home if they did not need to be in the office. Since then, Flemr said the company has used more a hybrid model of working from home and in the office.
“What about the supply chain?” the congressman asked.
“For instance, no one was buying tires during the pandemic because no one was going anywhere.” The supply chain, Flemr said, was delayed for at least 12 months, depending on what was being shipped and the company saw rebates, or reward cards, going down.
While Michelin was struggling to sell rubber, Flemr said, offering services and rebates decrease. But services the company provides for television providers saw an increase since people were spending time at home.
Addressing challenges during the pandemic took time, Flemr said, but became easier as time went on to manage and figure out how to address and balance them.
Sorensen also was shown the information technology area and the call center. At the call center, Sorensen talked with an employee who discussed how the center is more than just answering questions. It was highlighted during the call center tour that the company often promotes internally and has a mentor program of sorts available so employees can learn the ropes of multiple roles.
Sorensen said it’s important him to know about businesses like Group O so he can help craft legislation that benefits the company and region as a whole.
“What I want to be able to do is understand what’s happening here, not only so I can advocate for what we need here, but also to be able to talk with other members of Congress,” Sorensen said.
One of the challenges the company continues to face is staffing.
Senior Vice President Candy Wise said they are fortunate enough to be a family-owned business and have had to get creative in terms of recruiting.
“We have had to adjust to the market conditions in terms of salaries and benefits,” she said. “We’ve been pretty successful in retaining the majority of our workforce.”
Flemr agreed, saying that at Group O, they know they are valued even if they are not physically working in the building surrounded by others.