An Interview with the Founder and CEO, Dan Williams
IBS was founded in 1981 by Dan Williams in Oak Brook, Illinois armed with one desk, a credenza, a file cabinet and a desk phone. Today, the headquarters of IBS are still located in Oak Brook, Illinois with offices in Milwaukee, Detroit and Cincinnati. While Jeff Jorgensen became president of the company in 2014, Dan maintains an active role as CEO of the Veteran-Owned Small Business certified company.
Get to know IBS and Dan a little better by reading this interview in his own words.
Give us a little background on yourself and what led to the founding of IBS. When did that happen?
For many years, I was in IT Development and Management Consulting. My specialty was in designing, developing and managing projects devoted to manufacturing systems. In the late 1970s, I was recruited to Chicago to lead a manufacturing consulting division of a midsize firm… It was quite a challenge learning my way around the Chicago area (both the suburbs and downtown) to visit many customers each week. It was a great day when I discovered Lower Wacker Drive!
Eventually, some unfortunate events politically happened at that firm, and I, along with a couple others, ended up unemployed. I have always been a self-confident optimist, so I set off looking for new employment, and of course was determined to show my old employer they made a mistake in discarding me. (I also had a wife, two kids, car payments and a mortgage on my back!)
Meanwhile, some of my old clients asked me to continue helping them during my job search because they felt I really understood the manufacturing industry. This pushed me and gave me the confidence to start IBS, as a temporary company, until I found my new job. But, that new job never came, the ‘temporary’ part of the company disappeared… and the rest is history!
After that, the IBS story is less about me, and more about the highly motivated people who have joined the company and made it the success it is. In our early days, Inc Magazine listed IBS as one of the fastest growing US companies for three consecutive years. Over the years, we have proven that there is plenty of room in our marketplace for a company that is neither the most expensive nor the cheapest, but has high values and drive, and can deliver to a better price/performance value than others.
In which areas has the staffing industry changed the most since you began?
Thirty years ago when IBS got started, there were fewer technology platforms and much longer client engagements. A major difference today is that clients tend to work with a much larger variety of technologies and platforms, which are often required for the same project. The arrival of VMS (Vendor Management Systems) has greatly changed the face of the corporate process of talent acquisition. Additionally, consultant assignment durations are generally much shorter.
How do you think things will change in the future?
We are in the business of helping implement change in clients’ business processes. Change is at the heart of what we do. IBS started before faxes, cellphones, laptops, and Facebook. We have seen technology changes come and go and, consequently, have seen the processes used at IBS change accordingly.
The way we do things today is different than what we did five years ago, and will be different again five years from now. We will continue to evolve. Much of our changing environment will come from our customer’s evolving needs – their struggle to keep technologies current, the shortage of IT talent in the USA, and the resulting need to look outside to find that talent for mission critical projects.
What advice would you give to consultants who have never worked with a staffing firm before?
The benefits of working as a consultant are immense. Most of the benefits are in education. You get to work with a variety of different clients in a variety of different industries. You get to constantly face new challenges, which allow you to learn and utilize new technical skills. You get exposure to a much wider community of IT professionals than what may be the case otherwise.
What advice would you give to clients who are nervous about using a staffing company?
Clients who are nervous about using outside or temporary staff are unfortunately quite unaware of the tremendous energy and strategic flexibility that such organizations can bring to a corporate mission.