chili cook off

Chili Cook Off

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The 9th Annual Southern Illinois Chili Cook Off was held at the Marion Elks on November 4th. The outdoor event raised money for several local charities.


chili cook off

Gail Lannom, Priority Group CEO, along with Megan Jones, Professional Group COO, and Lindzey Barger, Business Development, were on the planning committee for the event.


Nearly 800 people attended and 32 competitors participated in the Chili Cook Off and Bloody Mary competitions, which had a Game Show theme.



The GLITS girls represented Priority Staffing Group for the 9th year in the competition. They won Best Team Theme with Wheel of Fortune.

chili cook off 

Other activities included a silent auction, raffles, and a bags tournament, all raising money for the selected charities.

chili cook off

Megan Jones, Professional Group COO

Up from last year’s $23,000 raised, the event surpassed the $25,000 goal for 2017. The money benefited The Fowler Bonan Foundation Clothes for KidsThe Night’s Shield Children’s ShelterThe Lighthouse Shelter, and the Williamson County Heartland Rotary iPad project for children with learning disabilities.

Priority Group is excited to have a part in our community’s events. If you have an event you’re interested in partnering with us in, call (618) 969-8800 to speak to one of our office representatives.


To view more photos of the event, visit the official Facebook page for the Southern Illinois Chili Cook Off.


Block Par-tee 2017

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Priority Group attended the inaugural Marion Chamber of Commerce Block Par-tee, a Community Fest & Bag Board/Putt-putt Tournament. Our representatives were Megan Jones, Professional Group COO, and Lindzey Barger, Business Development.

The Block Par-tee was held on Friday, October 13th from 4:00 – 8:00 PM at Heartland Regional Medical Center’s Serenity Trail and was a fundraiser for the Marion Chamber Foundation, which coordinates awards scholarships to Marion-area students by Grad Spree, a Committee responsible for all planning, fund-raising and coordination of activities for the drug/alcohol free celebration for Marion High School graduating seniors.


Block Par-tee Representatives

Megan Jones & Lindzey Barger

The event, which included food, drinks, prizes, games, vendors, networking and more, brought in a large number of people from the community, said Lindzey Barger, Priority Group Business Development. “It is always a heartfelt feeling to give back to the communities we live and work in and this event is a great example of that.”


Priority Group was a food vendor and also participated in the putt-putt tournament with a Friday the 13th themed putt-putt hole.


Block Par-tee


Business Development: How to tell the Difference

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We’ve all been there – the dreaded phone calls from sales professionals at [insert industry here].

It doesn’t matter who they are or where they’re calling from; they’re all the same, right?

Well…no. And we want to tell you why not.

Building Relationships

Chris Nichols, Priority Group’s Director of Business Development makes a point to not be a sales person. The reason is pretty straightforward – a sales professional’s job is to make a deal, sign a contract or get the sale. The job of a business development professional is different, more personal.

More so, in the Staffing and Recruiting industry, developing personal relationships is one of the most important parts of our jobs. “The staffing industry is unique,” Chris says. “Many times companies have been through years of under-performance and retention woes before looking into staffing. They typically make a few phone calls, hope to get pricing and once they get a quote they like, they sign up. The likelihood that the relationship lasts longer than 6 to 12 months isn’t very high. To be successful, it requires a two-way partnership approach. Success will not occur without teamwork.”

Our Partners

Our goal at Priority Group is not to make sales, its to help you grow your business. When your company enters into a relationship with ours, we give 100% to make sure your company is getting our best in terms of communication, transparency, perseverance and whatever else we can do to help you reach your goals, not ours. But by helping your business, it benefits us too. That’s why our partnerships are meaningful.

“Our most successful partnerships over the last seven years have developed when patience and planning prevailed,” Chris explains. “We have found that by sitting down with our clients two to four times prior to kicking off the hiring process, and then following-up often and early in the relationship, our biggest dividends have been earned.”

Chris adds that “the getting-to-know each other phase is the most vital in staffing and recruiting success.” Our job is to bring quality candidates to the client’s office or facility. By getting to know our client, their culture and what they look for in employees, we’re able to satisfy their needs tenfold.

“Relationships require trust. Trust doesn’t happen with one phone call or a lunch. It takes multiple meetings where walls can be torn down and the entities aren’t afraid to share their weaknesses with one another,” Chris tells. “It is also the ability to make a call two months into the partnership and say, “This isn’t working, what can we do to fix it?”

The Difference

All parts of our Business Development process revolve around people. All parts of the sales process revolve around money. And while there is a time and place for transactions and money, Priority Group doesn’t want the sale to be the focus. Just like our name says, your success is our priority – we stand behind that.

To talk to a Priority Group representative about a future partnership, contact any of our locations listed below.

Marion – (618) 969-8800 | Vandalia – (618) 283-9533 | Murfreesboro – (615) 295-2127



Priority Group Staff Photo

Employee Appreciation Weekend

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Priority Group’s three partners, Heather Goines-Evans, Gail Lannom, and Carlos Tanner, extended an invitation to the staff and their families for an Annual Employee Appreciation Weekend!


Heather said they offered this event to all three offices and their families because “Priority Group’s success is a direct result of [employees’] hard work, determination and dedication to our vision.”  The company also has several new additions to our team this year and wanted to welcome “your family to our family.”


Emily Melvin, Placement Specialist & Heather Goines-Evans, COO

The weekend started on Friday July 28th when Priority Staffing Group closed the office early, rented the Marion Pool for a family pool party and had a cookout in the park. The event was open to all employees and their families.

“I honestly liked the whole weekend and loved that a family included portion was a part of the event,” says Emily Melvin, Placement Specialist in the Marion office.


The fun continued the next day when the adults loaded up the Redneck Party Bus to tour a few of Southern Illinois’ best wineries. A twist was also added to the day in the form of a Hawaiian theme. Flower patterns and hula skirts took over the day as everyone enjoyed the company of their Priority Group family.


Gail Lannom, PSG Partner

Lindzey Barger, Business Development & Gail Lannom, CEO

“The ‘Redneck’ bus was so funny,” said Gail. “The Southern Illinois wineries are so beautiful, and the music we heard was great too!”


The event didn’t focus on the day-to-day operations of business – just some off-the-clock personal time with the rest of the staff. “Sometimes in the hectic days at the office we can forget how fun our co-workers are and how awesome a team we have,” says Emily Melvin. “Fun events help us to realize great positive qualities about our team members and Priority as a whole.”


Priority Group believes that appreciated employees will do their best work. Each year, the Staff Appreciation weekend allows our separate offices to come together, socialize and get to know people we wouldn’t otherwise meet. “We have been able to do a company appreciation day every year and I always look forward to this event,” said Gail.


The Not-So-Obvious Costs of a BAD HIRE


In the business world, we constantly hear about the “Cost of a Bad Hire” and how detrimental it can be for any business – small or large.  But what we fail to realize is how we aren’t affected by solely the financial cost of hiring the wrong person.  We get so swept up in dollar signs and “the bottom line” that we forget there is much more that goes in to the downfalls of a bad hire.

As a Human Resources professional with a specialization in Recruitment, I hear time and time again, “Well, a warm body is better than no body.”  But I am here to tell you that I, with respect, wholeheartedly disagree with that statement. In most cases, a “warm body,” or a bad hire, is astronomically worse than having a vacant position or terminating a poorly performing employee or someone that just DOES NOT FIT!

Growing up on sports teams of every kind, I learned very early in life that it does not matter how AWESOME of a third baseman I am, or how INCREDIBLE my center-fielder is if the rest of the team HATES playing softball, or if everyone on my team cannot stand to walk past me in the grocery store, let alone be on the same team as me.  The workplace is identical. Here are five reasons why a bad hire in the workplace is the exact same situation as having an athlete that just doesn’t belong on your team.

The Team

You have a high-functioning team that works well together – then you throw in the WORLD’S GREATEST Pitcher – who has a terrible attitude, thinks he or she is better than the rest of the team, cannot communicate, or just thinks the world revolves around the pitching mound. Your ENTIRE team is going to fail.  A team is a group of individuals that works together to identify one another’s strengths and weaknesses to come together as a whole to focus on each individual’s strengths and to improve each individual’s weaknesses.  You are only as strong as your weakest link, right?

One person can completely destroy a team – in softball or in business.  Morale will go straight down the drain, irritation and frustration goes through the roof, and soon enough you will start losing your key players.

The Fans – Our Customers 

Have you ever been to a baseball game, football game, or any sporting event for that matter, and while watching this awesome team you realize that the “star player” that everyone has been talking about is screaming and yelling at the other players, the coach, or the umpire?  It kind of makes you not want to watch the game anymore. As fans, we watch sports to enjoy the game, not watch someone with a bad attitude take it out on an undeserving bystander.

In business, our fans are our customers.  One bad employee, whether it is attitude, performance, or lack of consideration, will cost us our customers day in and day out.  Have you ever had a problem with your phone bill and called the phone company, only to be put on hold 15 times, then when you finally get to talk to the right person, they have a terrible attitude, act like you are incompetent, and treat you like the dirt on the bottom of their shoe? I bet you switched your phone service provider pretty quick, didn’t you? Why would we cost ourselves our greatest asset – our customers – just because we need to fill a position?

The Coaches – Management

Have you ever worked with someone who is late to work three days a week? Maybe it is someone who says, “Oh, I’ll take care of that, don’t worry.” Then two weeks later, you realize that he or she did not “take care of that.”  Maybe you have heard the phrase, “It is easier to do it myself than to have to go back and fix what someone else did.”

When we hire the wrong person, our coaches (managers) have to constantly go back and reteach, or fix, the problems that the bad hire continues to make.  Our managers spend countless hours trying to work their way back through problems that could have been avoided if it had just been done the right way the first time.  Not to mention, performance reviews, write-ups, counseling sessions, heart to heart talks, and so much more.  On top of all that, our managers then have to go and have heart to heart talks with the other team members to try to lighten the situation or keep steam from coming out of their ears with frustration.


Don’t we love hearing that our all-time favorite baseball team just traded our favorite player for the guy from across the country that NO ONE LIKES? Ha! Yeah right! But what happens when our coaches (managers) start adding more and more players to the team that have horrible attitudes, terrible work ethic, absolutely no morals, or they just do not get along with the rest of the team? Our coaches get a HORRIBLE reputation. The team suffers, the fans suffer, and soon enough, the owners are the ones looking to replace the coach.

Everyone makes mistakes now and then. This is life. It happens.  Bad hires are GOING to happen.  But if our Managers make bad hire after bad hire after bad hire – the team starts to see the stars align and realize that maybe he or she is NOT the best one for the job.  No one wants to be the coach (manager) that has the reputation of being incompetent or “horrible” at their job.  After so many bad hires, it won’t be much longer before the owners start looking for a replacement for the hiring manager.


In basketball, if your team turns the ball over EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. they touch the ball, it is very unlikely that your team in going to secure the W. How can your team get ahead if every time you get a shot to score, you give the ball back to our opponent?  No surprise here – same thing in the business world.  When we are constantly turning over employees, we are losing them to our OPPONENTS. There go our secrets, our strategies, and our shot at scoring.  There is no way to get ahead in the game if we can’t keep the ball in our court.


Game Winning Shot

The cost of a bad hire doesn’t just mean dollar signs down the drain – it means you are losing the best part about your business – your team.  It may not seem like it right now, but when one team member does not belong, your team members, customers, coaches, reputation, and owners ALL suffer.

Take your time when making hiring decisions, hire a Professional Recruiting Firm to assist in your recruiting efforts, and read the signs when they start to reveal themselves.  Don’t let one person cost you the game or the rest of your season.  Know your team, know your managers, know your customers.  That is how you will know how to make the best hiring decisions for your team!


Staci Davis, Priority Professional Group

Email Staci here or call Priority Staffing Group at (618) 969-8800 for all your staffing and recruiting needs.

New Hires at Corporate Headquarters

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Celesta Bowers – Finance Manager

Celesta Bowers joined Priority Group in April as the new Finance Manager. She grew up in Marion, IL and loves living and working here. She first fell in love with Accounting after taking her first accounting  course in high school. Then, the first in her family to graduate college, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Accounting and her Masters of Accountancy, Audit/Systems from Southern Illinois University.

Before joining Priority Group, she worked for three years as a Cost Accountant in the Wire and Cable industry in Du Quoin, IL; and prior to that, three years as an Accountant for doctors and hospitals. After having her boys, she decided she should spend less time on the road away from her family. Gail and Heather let her see that at Priority Group, she’d be a part of a growing business and family, not just another place to work. Her experience will now help further the financial growth of our business.

When not in the office, Celesta enjoys spending time with her husband and two boys, volunteering at the Boyton Street Community Center, traveling and taking pictures.

Robyn Sprowls – Front Office Coordinator

Robyn Sprowls, previously employed as our Payroll Specialist/Bookkeeper, has returned to Priority Group as the Front Office Coordinator, but continues to assist with bookkeeping. Her role at the Marion, IL office is important to the functions of Priority Staffing and Priority Professional Groups.

Her diverse administrative background, working in retail and corporate office environments, allows her to handle a variety of projects and meet deadlines.

Her education at Rend Lake College, in addition to her extensive experience, enables her to communicate easily and effectively with applicants and clients. Robyn’s outgoing personality is important as the face of the company; she reassures the applicants that they can complete their application with ease.

Robyn loves traveling, racing and spending time with her family when she’s not at work.

Illinois Still No Budget – Tennessee Is Doing Fine

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As we deal with the April showers, we are seeing the May flowers in our future. At least in some parts of this country. Time has a way of changing things – in life, in love, and in business!

Let’s talk business.

Business in Southern Illinois and Middle Tennessee are doing well for us. Tennessee has a more positive outlook for business growth because the state and counties are proactive in working with companies. Illinois, on the other hand, is NOT. With the continued unbalanced budget in Illinois, business is moving forward, but not very aggressively. Many are moving out of the state. How can a state go for almost two years and NOT HAVE A BUDGET? I can tell you this: if a company went two years without a budget and without paying bills, we would be forced to close the doors. We all need to work hard now and collaborate with our government to get their act together and get their job done.

We business owners work every day to make sure things are going in the right direction. Sometimes this means that changes have to happen; and we do that! Finding a good work force is not an easy task. With people leaving the state of Illinois at such a rapid pace, you might notice that finding good staff is getting more difficult. We do not let that stop us at Priority Staffing Group, Ltd. or Priority Professional Group, Ltd.  We recruit daily for more that 50 open positions. Some are entry level, some are professional level, and some are nurse positions. If you are finding it hard to recruit new talent, call us. We do this every day and with success. You know, “Your Success is Our Priority!”

Don’t give up on Illinois, but do contact your government officials and let them know we are ready to get back to business – they should be too. They seem to fill their schedules with “new” bills to be voted on. How about… let’s stop adding new bills to be voted on and get this budget worked out!

I seem to just write random thoughts, but they are things we should all be thinking about and trying to get fixed.

Good job, Tennessee!

How embarrassing, Illinois. You should be ashamed!

Gail Lannom, Priority Group CEOGail Lannom, CEO



Workers’ Compensation Symposium

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Gail at the Workers' Compensation symposium

Priority Group CEO, Gail Barger Lannom (left)

On March 9th, men and women from throughout southern Illinois joined at the John A Logan College for the 2017 Workers’ Compensation Symposium. Lindzey Barger and Gail Barger Lannom represented Priority Group at the event.


“We set up as a vendor and met many potential clients,” Gail said. “We got to network with existing clients too.”


The event, put on by WORKcare.ready.well, was for experts to teach the best practices in prevention and injury–navigation management. “Educational information was presented that will help with managing our day to day workers’ comp issues,” Gail said.


Attendees learned about many issues, including: early intervention and injury management programs, legal benefits and costs of such programs, and how local safety experts deal with workers’ compensation issues.


“It was a very nice event with great speakers,” Gail said. “The John A Logan College always has a nice venue for these type of events.”


By attending events like this one, Priority Group prepares for all our clients’ needs. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us by email.



Pageant Winners

The Queen of The Hill / Ms. Kokopelli Pageant


The Miss Kokopelli/Queen of the Hill Pageant was held on February 25, 2017. The event benefited Angels Cove, the Baptist Children’s Home and Family Services in Mt. Vernon, Illinois.


BCHFS is a multi-faceted family crisis center consisting of five ministries that work together to protect, heal and restore struggling children and families. Whether it is helping teens in trouble, young women with unplanned pregnancies, or Christian counseling services – BCHFS has been helping those who need it most reach their full potential.


Women and girls of various ages competed in one of seven categories: Baby Queen of the Hill, Tiny Queen of the Hill, Little Queen of the Hill, Junior Queen of the Hill, Teen Miss Queen of the Hill, Ms. Kokopelli, and The Queen of the Hill.


Megan Jones and Jenn Fortune

Pageant judges, Megan Jones and Jenn Fortune

The prize for winning was a cash purse based on the number of entries, a crown, a sash, a pin, flowers and a photo session to be featured on the Facebook pages.


Megan Jones, COO of Priority Professional Group, was asked to be a judge at the pageant. The committee was looking for a smart, successful business woman that is active in the community to serve as a judge for this year’s event, and Megan was the perfect fit.


This is Megan’s second time judging the pageant and it won’t be her last. “The thing that I enjoy about these pageants is that most people believe they are based on external beauty. That is absolutely not true,” Megan said. “It takes a lot more than external looks to make a person truly beautiful. The women who participate in these events are strong, outgoing, charismatic, and truly add value to their communities and to the world.”


Priority Group supports and congratulates the winners of the pageant and the organization that this event benefited.


Megan adds that “it takes a lot more than a pretty face to be kind and generous and want to make a difference in the world and those are the kind of women you see participating in these pageants. There is so much more to a pageant that people just don’t see until they participate in one.”


Please visit the event’s Facebook page to see photos of the contestants.

Priority Professional Group

Are you struggling to find high-quality candidates for your company?

A sister company of Priority Staffing Group focuses on Professional and Management level positions on a direct hire basis. Priority Professional group handles those hard to fill positions in your company that require candidates with specific experience, higher level education, or harder to find skills and experience.  We have experience with Engineering, Healthcare Professionals, Human Resources, Business Development, Finance/Accounting, and Management in all different industries.  We have the ability to recruit nationwide, screen candidates, and can determine which qualities and skills a candidate must possess to be the perfect fit for your business!


Priority Professional Group also handles the Nurse Staffing Division.  A nursing specific applicant pool that can range from PRN, Contract, Permanent Placement, Temp to Hire in all different specialties including Clinics, Hospitals, and so much more!


If you are interested in hearing more about how Priority Professional Group can help you, please contact Megan Jones or Staci Davis at 618-969-8800.