It was 1969. The counter-culture was still at odds with a burgeoning capitalist movement. With the landing on the moon, change seemed inevitable and progressive. But the Manson murders and Altamont symbolically put an end to hippiedom and the free spirits that fought for social change either retreated to enclaves that reflected their own ideals, or relented and pursued conventional careers. By 1970, some of the Baby Boomers felt it was time to throw their hats into the work pool and get jobs, marry and start a family. For many, the culture wars weren’t paying the bills and the idea to start a career—or a business— was something that should present itself. Many stepped up.
As such, Mid-Illinois Companies came from these times. The company has always strived to offer a broad range of services. Now of course, this came in inclement steps. But today, its core services as an interior contractor has expanded to better service its customers and stay in step with the evolution of the commercial construction industry. A lot has changed in 50 years.
In Peoria, Ill., things can change fast or slow. It depends on your point of view. From the perspective of Mid-Illinois, the momentum has been a steady and upward burn for half a century. The company performs all areas of wall and ceiling contracting, such as drywall, gypsum-related material, ceilings, steel framing, firestopping, EIFS, WRBs, wall covering/panels, insulation, soundproofing and so much more. This company really is the go-to contractor for interior and exterior wall assembly needs. Of course, Peoria’s biggest employer would be Caterpillar. But somewhere behind this line, an established company that employs more than 100 people would be Mid-Illinois. Afterall, you can’t be in business for 50 years and not be good at what you do.
From the Beginning
At its core, Robert “Bobby” Taylor currently serves as its vice president.
“I began as a laborer in the late-’80s tending to masons and working with interior system contractors in the area,” he says. “Currently working for Mid-Illinois Companies, my brother, Danny Taylor informed me that they were looking for a laborer. It was the company’s founder, Dan Higdon, who interviewed me and gave me the opportunity to start working for Mid-Illinois Companies in 1992 working as a plasterer tender and laborer. When my position slowed down, I asked my superintendent if there was anything else I could do to continue working for the company. I was informed that they would be willing to take me on as a carpenter apprentice.”
From there, it’s to be assumed his position only grew.
When deemed necessary, the company provides a complete package to its customers starting with design and engineering through to the finished product.
“When we perform this service, we work with our construction team of professional services and subcontractors. We’ve worked with the majority of these other companies for over 20 years,” Taylor says. “The entire team focus is on customer service and a quality product for our customers. Because of this focus, we have created a loyal customer base that creates repeat business for all of us. This helps to carry us through slow economic conditions when those occur.”
Outside of the Chicago area, Mid-Illinois is the only downstate UL Qualified firestop contractor in Illinois. To maintain this standing, the company is audited on its procedures and services performed specific to firestopping services annually by UL field engineers.
“We are required by UL to maintain a quality level of documentation and service worthy of their stringent requirements,” says Taylor.
“Another specialty area we have focused on is training our staff to work in medical facilities,” he continues. “In recent years, there has been a growing awareness and concern about airborne infections in hospital facilities. Most medical facilities have infectious control protocol with staff oversite. We are constantly training our staff to meet these needs and perform our services within this more sterile environment.”
A 50-year Old Progression
The company has grown tremendously over the past 50 years. What started out as a sole proprietor with one or two employees has grown to more than 100 employees and administrative staff.
Taylor says the company has also grown in terms of the services it offers and the geographic area it covers.
“Initially, we were a painting and drywall company focusing on residential projects. Over the years, we added metal and wood framing, insulation, plastering, acoustic ceilings, acoustic wall panels, doors/frames/hardware, air/weather barrier systems and EIF systems,” says Taylor. “Yes, a steady overall growth in revenue, services and the geographic area in which we provide services. We now have an office and warehouse space in Springfield (Ill.) to better service our expanding geographical area and customer base.”
Because of the geographical sprawl Mid-Illinois covers, its service-orientated reputation and diversity, the company has an ample opportunity and views its current and future circumstances as bright.
How bright? Well, Taylor says 2020 is starting out strong and the team is optimistic about the balance of this year having enough opportunities, finishing out its 50th year of business as one of its best in terms of revenue.
“The economic state of the State of Illinois has made it challenging for businesses to flourish in Illinois,” says Taylor. “Being a commercial contractor, it has had a direct impact on our business. Despite this, we have maintained a steady growth pattern by growing our services and the area in which we do business. We are signatory to Unions; over the years we’ve witnessed most of the unions we work with evolve, becoming more aware of the importance of training and being more business conscious regarding the customers’ needs.”
According to Taylor, the company has always placed a priority on internal training and promoting from within whenever possible. He says this leads to a strong management team that all understand and believe in our core values; commitment to safety, commitment to customer satisfaction and our commitment to our community.
“[In regards to our strengths], I’d have to say our diversity and dedication to quality service,” says Taylor. “We recognize construction is a service orientated business, we focus on this.
In the late-’80s, in order to keep the company thriving, Founder Dan Higdon was instrumental in formulating a succession plan which involved his son Dennis and daughter Deb. At this time, Dennis was a journeyman painter and transitioned into the office to oversee projects, marketing and sales.
Meanwhile, Deb was focusing on the hard-bid market. Combining the success of direct sales and hard-bid was instrumental for the contractor. This led to the succession plan between the three. This is where the family business began with a strong foundation and the building blocks from there. The company has weathered strong storms along the way but with any building that has a strong foundation, it has the power of sustainability through even the hardest of times.