Marc Geil

Global Director of Culture and Employee Experience

Wahl Clipper

Marc <strong>Geil</strong>

“We live exactly the kinds of lives we want to here.”

Marc Geil is a lifelong resident of Sterling, Illinois, and an actively engaged citizen who consistently lends his business expertise to vital community initiatives.

“Volunteering for a community you love isn’t always easy,” he said. “But it is deeply fulfilling.” “With the exception of having been away for college, I’m a lifelong Sterling resident,” said Geil. “We’re blessed to have been afforded amazing opportunities that have allowed us to prosper here. To raise our family. To be surrounded by friends and family. To be deeply involved in the community. When I have a chance to share that with the world, I’m happy to seize it.” Sterling’s economic development is on an upward trajectory, a trend Geil attributes to the assets that enrich his family’s daily life.

“Our schools are outstanding, particularly our public school facilities, which rival those of much larger districts in metropolitan areas,” he notes. They are regularly asked to host performing arts and sporting events that gather students and families from across the state. “Our CGH Medical Center, also under the stewardship of the City of Sterling, is a testament to our community strength. Our parks, managed by the city, offer diverse and top-tier recreational opportunities.”

While Sterling serves as a regional shopping hub, Geil emphasizes that families like his also enjoy exploring neighboring cities in their spare time. “We frequently go on day trips or short overnight trips to destinations like Rockford, the Quad Cities, Chicago or Madison,” Geil remarks. “It’s enjoyable, but returning home always feels good. Part of Sterling’s charm lies in its proximity to other places we enjoy.” Speaking about his involvement with the Sterling Riverfront Commission, Geil underscores his commitment to revitalizing the city’s picturesque riverfront. “The mission to rejuvenate our beautiful riverfront is a cause I passionately support,” he affirms. “I firmly believe that developers who invest here will thrive while contributing to the city’s continued growth and prosperity.”

Terry McGuire

Senior Vice President

HALO Branded Solutions

Terry <strong>McGuire</strong>

“It’s not a matter of ‘if’, it’s a matter of how quickly.”

“I was recruited here from San Antonio, Texas. There is literally nothing I regret about our move to Sterling,” said Terry McGuire, Sr VP of Halo HALO Branded Solutions. “We liked Texas, but we love Sterling.”

HALO, founded in Sterling in 1952, has prospered ever since. A leading company in the branded merchandise and employee recognition industry, HALO employs about 2,000 people nationally and draws over 400 from a 20-mile radius of Sterling.

“As we grew, we received offers to relocate our corporate headquarters to other states,” said McGuire. “Our local employees’ quality of life is high. Our Sterling team’s high productivity is a reflection of the overall quality of life they enjoy in the Sterling area. The “Rural Renaissance” people talk about is real and we’re glad to be beneficiaries.”

“Sterling has been a remarkably great place to live and to raise a family,” said McGuire. “It’s friendly and welcoming. It feels like home. The education system positioned our children for success. As a competitive cyclist and active adult, we have a wealth of safe roads and winding single track right out my back door, and nationally-recognized parks and recreation facilities. The fitness and recreation communities are robust and inclusive.”

“Speaking of recruiting,” said McGuire, “I’ve been recruited to be part of many community efforts over the years and my answer is almost always ‘yes.’ I will admit though, my participation in our Riverfront Reimagined project is both personally and professionally somewhat self-interested. HALO and other area businesses will welcome and support its new hotelier, restaurateurs and other businesses as soon as they open their doors. Sterling is a shopping and recreation hub for northwest Illinois so the Riverfront Reimagined project will draw visitors and commerce from a wide geographic radius, providing an excellent return for those groups willing to invest in Sterling.”

“It’s not a matter of if it will happen,” he said. “It’s a matter of how quickly. I am looking forward, and the community is looking forward, to experiencing the interesting confluence of suits and ties and seed corn hats that will gather in those spaces. That hotel, that brewery, that distillery, those restaurants – will provide a snapshot of what middle America is and can be.”

Diana Merdian


City of Sterling

Diana <strong>Merdian</strong>

“I value our past and present. I look forward to our future.”

For me, becoming Mayor of Sterling felt like a personal mission I was on all my life. I always find myself trying to talk to anyone who will listen to me about moving to Sterling. I was born and raised in Sterling. I believe in our city and its culture. I believe in our past and our present. And I believe in our future.

I’m proud of the fact that I am a female elected official – the first Hispanic mayor in Sterling’s history. I love the diversity on our City Council, on which there are three women and the first openly gay man in our Council’s history. We have a lot of age diversity on Council, too. So, our citizens are well-represented here in our government. That is not the case in many places.

I bought my childhood home on the river where I have warm memories of the Mill factory whistle waking me up every morning. If it wasn’t that, it was the call of our bald eagles. Being Mayor of Sterling is not a full-time job, but it’s a labor of love. It’s way more work than I anticipated it to be, but that has actually been a pleasant surprise. I want to work at this, not just sit in a ceremonial position and shake hands and smile at the camera.

I like the language our tourism people use when they say Sterling is in a Rural Renaissance. It’s clever and it’s honest. We are a rural region, that is for sure. And that is, in large part, exactly what I love about this city. You feel secure here. You know lots of people. You feel like part of a real community. And it’s easy to see all our quality of life advantages all around us. Sterling benefits from being a real healthcare and retail shopping hub for our region.

Regionally, our high-profile businesses range from healthcare to schools to Halo to Wahl Clipper to Raynor Garage Doors to VeriFacts to a Walmart Distribution Center and lots more. All of these businesses and all of our citizens are thirsty for the kinds of benefits the Riverfront Reimagined development will bring to our community – and I know all of us will be supportive of the companies who invest in it, be they hoteliers, housing, distillers, brewers, co-working spaces, retail, all of it.

All are welcome here as we continue to enhance the trajectory of our city. Come one, come all. We want everyone to feel at home in Sterling. ‡

Mike Wahl

Vice President Innovation & Insights

Wahl Clipper

Mike <strong>Wahl</strong>

“Our success has always been rooted here. Our values align closely with Sterling’s .”

Wahl Clipper, a global manufacturer of professional grooming products, traces its roots to its founding in 1919 in Sterling, Illinois.

“As a fourth-generation member of our leadership team and one of 70+ family shareholders, I take immense pride in our company’s local legacy,” shared Mike Wahl. “It’s a unique privilege to be able to say that my Great Grandfather was the visionary who invented the hair clipper and founded the company I work for today.”

“After graduating from high school in Sterling, I pursued my undergraduate studies at Notre Dame in South Bend and later my MBA from DePaul in Chicago,” he continued. “I also lived and worked in Germany, Chicago and Southern Wisconsin. But, the pull of this community and the opportunity to contribute to Wahl’s success brought me back home.”

While Wahl Clipper routinely garners interest from M&A suitors, the family remains steadfast in its commitment to Sterling and their preference for independence.

“It’s simple,” explained Wahl. “Our success has always been rooted here. Our values align closely with Sterling’s values: family, hard work, humility and integrity. Even how we located overseas facilities reflects our preference for Sterling-like communities over larger cities.”

What can investors in Sterling expect?

“We have a diligent and loyal workforce. Our families feel secure. Our schools excel, offering top-notch facilities that offer our next generation the opportunity to learn and grow in a wide variety of ways. Our park district enhances our quality of life and the surrounding farmland and natural beauty is a playground for the outdoors enthusiast,” said Wahl.

Regarding the Riverfront Reimagined development and the benefits of the proposed hotel, multi-family living spaces and diverse amenities, Wahl emphasized its broader impact for the region’s citizens.

“I’d say this; sure, it will be great for our employees and Wahl Clipper. But that is because it will be a boon to the whole Sauk Valley region – for the people of Sterling, Rock Falls, Dixon and all the other people here. And, it’s going to be a boon to those who invest here and bet on Sterling, just like we have.”

Be a part of

Riverfront Reimagined Development Opportunity

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