A Perfect 10: Seven Employees Hit Milestone Anniversary at Addison Group

by Jack Parodi 12/22/2020

One decade. 10 years. 3,650 days. To spend that amount of time at a single company is a rarity these days. 

Here at Addison Group, we have seven employees celebrating their 10-year anniversary with us in 2020. They all have unique ways in which they got here, how they’ve progressed within the company, and what they’ve been involved in over the past decade. But one constant remains the same — the dedication to their work and their commitment to Addison Group. 

Here are their stories. Get to know their journey and what they love about working at Addison!

Lynnsey Wimmer – Senior VP, IT/Digital Marketing in Houston

Nearing the tail end of the summer of 2017, Houston residents were rocked by Hurricane Harvey — the second-most costly hurricane in U.S. history, totaling around $125 billion in damages. While dealing with natural disasters such as hurricanes and monsoons is nothing new to Houston, Harvey was a different beast.

One of the many Houstonians affected was Lynnsey Wimmer. She and her husband recently moved into a new home, only for it to get ruined by the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey.

In situations like these, most turn to their family and other loved ones for help. Wimmer’s coworkers at Addison Group were there from the get-go to help her family cope with their flooded home. David McFarland, who also recently celebrated a 10-year anniversary with Addison Group, even got rotten meat from Wimmer’s broken fridge spilled all over him during the clean-up.

“We had 6 feet of water in our house for about 3 weeks,” Wimmer said. “And Addison Group came and helped completely gut our house. It was a moment where you realized this is more than just work. People actually genuinely care about the stuff you’re going through outside of work. They didn’t have to do that, and that really reinforced my loyalty here.”

Not only is it the selfless acts of togetherness like this that’s kept Wimmer at Addison Group for a decade, it’s the culture, too.

“The people we have in the office and really just all around made me stay this long,” Wimmer said. “You know, you’re going to face some issues within every company. But the people that we work with make it okay to deal with that.

“I feel like I have undivided loyalty to the leadership that’s helped me get to where I am, too. I would never want to leave them because of everything they’ve invested in me.”

David McFarland – Recruiting Manager, IT/Digital Marketing in Houston

After serving in Iraq with the Air Force until 2006, David McFarland headed to Sam Houston University in 2007 to earn his degree, graduating in 2010.

The job search wasn’t an easy one since the job and housing markets were fairing poorly. He always wanted to go into law enforcement, as his degree was in criminal justice, but the agencies were on a hiring freeze at the time of his graduation, putting him on waitlists. With student loans, a wedding, and other expenses to pay for, he needed to get a job.

“Nobody was hiring,” McFarland said. “I think I had like 3 or 4 interviews, but those jobs weren’t it. So I was contacted by someone in the veterans’ program at the university to get paid good money to drive a semi-truck. I figured with student loans to pay, getting married that November, and the fact that I like to drive, I might as well.”

McFarland was ready to do what he had to do to make money, getting prepared to go to trucking school in the summer. But then, about a week before that began, current Addison Group President of Information Technology and Engineering, Mike Weast, gave McFarland a call.

“One of the former founders of the IT and Engineering department found my resume and gave it to Mike,” McFarland said. “He called me and got me an interview with himself and [now Senior VP of IT for Texas] David Collins.”

The first thing Collins did was look at McFarland and his resume and told him his resume needed some work. McFarland realizes now it was a tactic to see how he responded to adversity, and after cleaning up his resume, McFarland made sure he sat down with Collins again after the next round of interviews to show him the improvements. He ended up getting the job, reporting directly to Weast.

“Mike really reminded me of one of my sergeants in the military,” McFarland said. “His management style was really straight-forward and I loved that. I responded well to it and I felt like he recognized that very early. He set me on the path to where I am today, always helping people progress to the next level in their careers. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.”

Because of Weast’s mentorship as well as from those around him, McFarland continued to stay motivated and go all-in on everything he does. It’s what has kept him at Addison Group for a decade.

“When people ask me why I’ve stayed here for so long, I always give one answer: The people,” McFarland said. “Lynnsey told you that story about Harvey. That was a very emotional time for her family and for all of us. I wasn’t even on her team anymore when Harvey hit, but she started two months after me and we built this long-lasting bond over the years. And that’s very common here.”

Luke Thiem – Regional VP, Healthcare in Chicago

Rugby was Luke Thiem’s life in his early 20s.

Following a successful stint playing in college, he accepted an offer to play professionally in Chicago. There were two catches, however: Professional rugby in the U.S. didn’t pay enough for it to be someone’s full-time gig and they traveled almost every weekend during the season, leaving on Friday and playing Saturday.

“When I started at Addison, I told Kelly [Gorham] that I was playing Super League Rugby and needed to take Fridays off for the 14-week season,” Thiem said. “And even though we were coming out of a recession, she was cool with it. So being able to have that work-life balance and still play rugby, that’s why I originally came to Addison Group. Then I realized I’m pretty good at recruiting.”

Aside from Thiem’s grind to move up the ladder within Addison Group, the hard-working, success-driven culture of the company is what led him to stay for 10 years.

“Addison has always allowed me to create the culture I’m looking for and want to be a part of,” Thiem said. “I’m able to be myself and I’ve seen tremendous success from doing it. At first, I was super motivated to be at the top of the sales scorecard. And to have coworkers who are super motivated as well and push you to compete with them so you can do the best you can, I loved that.”

Not only was the competitive culture perfect for Thiem, but also the light-hearted, fun culture from top to bottom kept him with Addison Group.

“I’ve hired people from other staffing firms and they always mention how close we all are,” Thiem said. “Just knowing that other places aren’t like this, that I can be myself and have fun within professional guidelines and promote that type of culture and environment — you can’t get that at other places.”

Sherry Benton – Senior VP, Facilities Management

It’s not often someone transitions from a recruiting role to facilities management, let alone within the same company. But Sherry Benton did so and with it, found her passion within operations.

“When I took the job here at Addison Group 10 years ago, I knew I didn’t want to be back in agency recruiting,” Benton said. “Within 90 days of me being here, the girl that was doing our benefits left and we didn’t have a replacement for her. And I had a good relationship with the person who the position reported to. He asked me if I wanted it, and I said, ‘Absolutely.’”

Benton started off doing human resources and benefits without any prior training in the fields. And with nobody else doing it with her at the time, there wasn’t anyone to train her. A challenge, for sure. But for her, anything was better than agency recruiting.

“They literally gave me a desk and a book and were like, ‘We have no idea what she did, so it’s up to you to figure it out,’” Benton said. “But that’s kind of my personality and how I’ve moved up in authority. It motivated me to learn as much as possible on my own and take advantage of the opportunity I had.”

While the people certainly factored into Benton staying at Addison Group for a decade, the biggest driving factor for her was the opportunity to grow within. She took over as the only person working in HR and benefits and saw it grow to a large part of the company. And with that growth came plenty of promotions for herself.

“Once HR and benefits split, I took over doing benefits and completely built it from the ground-up,” Benton said. “It wasn’t even a department when I started here. So kind of formulating that structure in that department and getting it to now where it’s a well-oiled machine, it’s really satisfying to see. And while I’m not managing benefits anymore, it’s still my baby and I try to help them out as much as I can.”

Krista Allen – Branch Manager, Finance & Accounting in Houston

Krista Allen is proof that putting yourself out there pays off.

For the first year of her time recruiting at Addison Group, she felt behind, like she was continuously playing catch-up in order to stay on track. That constant feeling began to stress her out; but then something clicked.

“There were a lot of good people around me that I would learn from and shadow to get myself comfortable that first year,” Allen said. “I think you really have to take some initiative on your own. If you want to shadow somebody, go do it. Raise your hand and ask questions you might be too timid to ask originally. Be willing to look kind of dumb; it’s okay. That and the people around me really helped to boost my confidence that first year.”

Plenty of employees have surely felt the same way when they start a new job, especially in recruiting. But there’s more to getting comfortable than just taking the initiative. For Allen, those surrounding her played the biggest role in her career development.

“The job is hard; it’s a grind,” Allen said. “It’s a rollercoaster, and it takes a year or two to get used to that and get to where it doesn’t make it feel like as much of one. No job, especially this one, is easy. But if you like the people around you and you can learn from them and grow with them, it makes all the difference. The people around me really are the reason why I’ve stayed through the good years and the tough years and am still here today.”

Soulman Bushera, Recruiting Manager IT in Maryland

Soulman Bushera was early in his career — three years into a recruiting job with a different staffing firm — when he knew he needed a change. While he enjoyed the job and wanted to stay in the industry, he knew he needed a different culture and a chance to grow internally with a new company.

He was brought on by HireStrategy to be an information technology recruiter in the Washington D.C. area. He worked with his small team for four years, watching the company grow before it was acquired by Addison Group in 2014.

Mergers can be difficult for some, especially transitioning from working for a smaller company to being a part of a national brand. But for Bushera, it was seamless.

“The transition was easy because the cultures were the same, where it’s people over process,” Bushera said. “When you work for larger companies, a big fear many people have is that you’re going to be a pawn — just another number. But the beauty is, HireStrategy was always about its people where the culture was our primary focus. And that’s what I loved about coming here; they actually care about asking you about your day, they want to hang out after work. It’s great.

“When I joined here, I was in my early 20s and my energy was through the roof because of that culture,” Bushera added. “I felt like I was part of a group of people that I could grow my career with and learn from, but also have a place that I feel comfortable coming to. I used to work to just not get fired, so HireStrategy and Addison were really a nice change of pace for me to where I loved my job.”

Not only was the culture at HireStrategy and then Addison Group a perfect fit for Bushera, but he loved the ability to progress his career with the same company and people, while helping others do the same. It’s a big part of what’s kept him around for so long.

“I love the opportunity to help others grow,” Bushera said. “At HireStrategy, we had an L&D department, but it was small and not for your specific skillset. For IT, I started putting together ‘Lunch & Learn’ powerpoints to teach our new hires the best practices specifically for recruiting in IT. It’s just really great to work for a company where I can do so many different things and really help others grow professionally.”

Kelli Lieder – Sr. Recruiter, HR & Admin in Chicago

Ten years ago, Addison Group was just a small staffing firm in a few major cities around the country trying to find its niche.

Enter Kelli Lieder. The Michigan native had already worked at a healthcare staffing firm for a year, but decided to take on a position at Addison Group’s Chicago office, ready to work.

“I knew of an old colleague from my previous company that went to Addison Group,” Lieder said. “She spoke highly of Addison Group and connected us. I interviewed with Ed Kavanaugh, Kelly Gorham, the CEO at the time, and a couple other members of the team — the rest is history!”

Lieder would have never imagined she’d stay with Addison Group for 10 years, let alone see the progress the company has made in that time. But what’s been the most eye-opening for her is seeing the success she’s had in her time with the company, getting the opportunity to move up the ladder and attend some prestigious trips for Echelon, the company’s highest award given based on excellence in recruiting and sales.

“I honestly have a lot of great memories at Addison Group,” Lieder said. “Ten and a half years is a long time. It’s incredible to see where the company was then and where it is now, and I am proud to have contributed to that growth. But ultimately the Echelon trips will forever be such a special time and memory for me.”

Lieder is not only recognized by the company for her achievements, but by her manager as well. Sam Booth, Recruiting Manager for HR & Admin, views Lieder as a role model to herself and the team.

“Since I first started in 2016, she has always been my go-to for advice and assistance,” Booth said. “Kelli has such an amazing brand, including unlimited referrals from past candidates. Everyone she has ever worked with has had the best candidate experience.”

10 years is a long time to be with any company, much less a growing one in a competitive field. So, what kept her at Addison Group? The answer may sound familiar.

“The primary ingredient [that’s made me stay this long] would have to be the people,” Lieder said. “There has been a lot of support from all levels of management, colleagues and those that have worked for me in the past. The relationships have provided a great incentive to work hard, have fun and add value to the company.”

Addison Group has a People First culture and it continues to show through and through. Congratulations to these Addison all-stars on 10 great years. Want to join our team and begin making your own memories? Check out our open positions!