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Verifications Inc. Kills 140 Jobs in Mitchell, Aberdeen

Last updated on 2013.11.03

Verifications Inc. surprised 140 of its South Dakota employees yesterday by telling them they will lose their jobs by November:

According to Verifications employee Becky Jacobson, employees in Mitchell were asked to attend a mandatory meeting Thursday, at which they were informed of the closures.

"It was horrible," said another employee who asked to remain anonymous. "We walked into the room and there were Kleenex boxes on the table, so we knew."

Mitchell employees were shown a video of Verifications President and CEO Curt Marks announcing the closures, Jacobson said.

"There was a lot of crying," she said of the reactions. "It seems like we had been kept in the dark" [Chris Mueller, "Verifications Closing Mitchell and Aberdeen Locations," Mitchell Daily Republic, 2012.04.26].

Note that the bosses could have driven over from corporate headquarters in Wayzata, Minnesota, to break the news and maybe offer their thanks and their apologies in person. But no: to declare 140 South Dakotans a hindrance to the company's profits, corporate sends videos and boxes of Kleenex. Not exactly an expression of the company's Values of Solidarity, Commitment, and Courage.

Update 20:10 MDT: Eager reader and Verifications Inc. Mitchell employee Owen Reitzel provides a valuable correction in the comment section below. He says that CEO Curtis Marks did indeed make the jaunt from Wayzata to the Aberdeen facility to make the announcement in person. Reitzel says Marks wanted to break the news to both plants at the same time but simply could not be in both places at once. I recognize the respect Mr. Marks showed his South Dakota employees by coming to face them with this awful announcement. I regret and retract the inaccurate insinuation expressed in the immediately preceding paragraph... butI leave the text visible in order to own my error.

Spread some irony on your toast: on its Testimonials page, Verifications cites unnamed clients as lauding their employee background-check and drug-testing services thus:

"I hate surprises. VI is proactive, not reactive."

"It's simple why we're with VI: they never give us a reason to leave."

South Dakota didn't give Verifications any reason to leave. We actually worked pretty hard to bring them here, using state and local loan funds to build the Mitchell facility Verifications leases. We appear to have made similar efforts ten years ago for Verifications in Aberdeen. The company simply found cheaper labor in Arizona, India, and the Philippines.

These closings come on top of layoffs in Aberdeen last year of 15 employees who became obsolete because of technology.


  1. Steve Sibson 2012.04.27

    Cory, where is the point that the state and local government help create these jobs with your tax money? Ever hear about "corporate sopcialism"? Is are you too simple minded to understand what that means? That only those whe lose elections talk about such things.

  2. David Newquist 2012.04.27

    “The restructuring ensures that Verifications will continue to exceed the rising expectations of our clients,” Wilder said in a news release. “This allows us to further enhance our customer service experience.”


    “However, failing to take these steps will eventually result in negative consequences for all of Verifications’ employees and customers.”

    These are pretty serious back-of-the hand slaps at the employees in Mitchell and Aberdeen. And look where the operations are moving to.

    I wonder when economic development people will ever learn that we should not be investing in companies that deal with people like this for our economic future. Their exploitation of the communities and treatment of the people are symptomatic of real reasons our economy is not recovering at a better rate. They will never help build an America that lasts.

  3. Owen Reitzel 2012.04.27

    I can give a different perspective to this because I'm one of the 140 that will losing their jobs in October.
    First Cory one correction. CEO Curtis Marks was in Aberdeen to give them the bad news and he had made a tape to show to the people in Mitchell. He wanted to do this at the same time. So I really don't have to much of a problem with that.
    But obviously I have a problem with losing my job. There are many angles here.
    The first is the company caving in to the all mighty buck. while people here in South Dakota will now be struggling the people in Arizona will be mostly part time and the people in India will probably make a buck an hour (I don't know for sure what'll they'll get.)
    Second I feel sorry for Bryan Hisel, executive director of MADC. He, the city of Mitchell and the State of South Dakota with incentives got this company to come to Mitchell and looked to have a long-trerm relationship. I'm sure he feels betrayed. I know that nothing is a sure thing but I think there has to be be a way to keep companies from what looks like a great way to make money and then leave. Maybe the folks here could make suggestions.
    Finally the human factor. I saw a lot of people with tears in their eyes and in some a little bit of fear.
    A friend of mine was crying not just because she is losing her job but to the fact that she's in her 60's and a couple of years a go she had a heart attack. Her first words to me was what she was going to do with no insurance. I've got to admit I had a tear in my eye for her.
    This might be off track but I'd like John Thune or Kristi Noem or any of the tea baggers to look into this woman's eyes then tell her "tough luck, its been a good run."

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.04.27

    Owen, thank you for sharing both that important correction (see my update and apology above) and your perspective on the firing. I understand that businesses have to do what they have to do to survive. However, that doesn't change the fact that the city and state invested a great deal of money to get what has turned out to be a very temporary return. The company's move shows very clearly why business recruitment incentives are a bad idea.

  5. PrairieLady 2012.04.27

    My heart goes out to all the 140 people of Mitchell and Aberdeen.

    We pay businesses to come here, give them tax breaks and incentives and then pay nothing in wages, reap nice profits, but get greedy and leave. Let's just say that is it in a nutshell, as I am too tired to get on my soapbox tonight.
    Why not use the money to help our, meaning owned by South Dakotans, small businesses who are struggling, those already established would like to expand or new small businesses? The small business people who have roots in their communities probably are not going to leave or outsource.
    Why is our state government paying an out of state recruiter to find qualified people for jobs we have here, when we could invest in training the good people we have? Seems our state government is not working for South Dakotans.

  6. Jana 2012.04.27

    Owen, do you know how much the city of Mitchell and the state invested in Verifications?

  7. Mark Tobin 2012.04.28

    Tough deal for those employees and their communities. I tend to support local and state government doing reasonable things to help business and jobs grow as long as that assistance doesn't become a temptation for businesses to play one community over another or behave like carpetbaggers. I suspect the Verifications business model, especially for its type of business, has a particular difficult time in a recession. Glad to hear those employees are getting a severance, Verifications is reaffirming its leases, and Mitchell and Aberdeen are going to do what they can to help these folks. Maybe Verifications, which specializes in employee screening and intake can contact an outsourcing company to help these employees find other opportunities. That would be a big help and bolster its corporate values bona fides.

  8. Owen Reitzel 2012.04.28

    Here you go Jana. From the Mitchell Daily Republic.

    According to information reported in 2011 by The Daily Republic, the building housing Verifications was constructed by MADC using $1.5 million in loans, including $500,000 from the city of Mitchell and $700,000 from the state Revolving Economic Development and Initiative (REDI) Fund, with the remaining funds coming from other sources. The MADC also contributed $500,000 of its own funds.

    Verifications paid MADC $124,797 annually for the first five years of its lease and agreed to pay $157,905 a year in the last five years of the lease.

    According to Bryan Hisel, executive director of MADC and the Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce, the lease agreement between Verifications and MADC extends to March 2018. The building was appraised at $1.6 million in October.

    Sibby! any openings at Toshiba?

  9. 1 of 140 Annonymous Employee 2012.04.28

    I am employee of VI and Curt Marks could have made the trip to Mitchell to announce this to us or to even say that he is sorry for this decision. But he DIDN'T. Instead he sent out an email. Not really even apoligizing for what is happening. We have worked so hard threw overtime and threw reduced hours. I'm just as mad as the next person but i'm greatful for the 6 months notice and how awesome the community is reacting. I hope they can find clients overseas!!!!

  10. Owen Reitzel 2012.04.28

    ditto to everything 1 of 140 has to say. If Verifications had closed down completely we wouldn't be happy but maybe we'd be more understanding. But it didn't and while they have been opening up a new center in Arizona and in India they closed us down and thats the problem.
    The sorrys and thanks for your service ring hallow when we see all the money going to these new centers. That's why people are upset-the appearance that Mr. Marks cares more making money then the people that helped him get to where he is today.
    We have at least 6 months to try to find something else. In this right-to-work state he could have closed down the office that day and said "see ya." So for that we are grateful.
    I wonder if Mr. Marks can sleep well at night.

  11. Owen Reitzel 2012.04.28

    Ditto to what 1 of 140 said. I think people are mad because of the new centers that have opened up in Arizona and India, while ours are closing down. Seems like Mr. Marks cares more for the almight buck then us.
    We are greatful that at the very least we have 6 months to try to find something else. It'll be tough. In this right-to-work state they could have shut us down right away and said see ya. For not doing that Mr. Marks we say thank you.
    But the "I"m sorrys and thank you's" ring hallow to me and not really sincere. The successes you've reach has been on the backs of the hard working people that your laying off now. I think you've forgotten that.
    You might find hard working people in India like us, but I would guess not.
    I'm going to work hard the next 6 months (hopefully less) but not for Verifications or Mr. Marks but for myself and my family because right now thats all that matters

  12. John 2012.04.29

    An honest accounting of corporate welfare will reveal it's an incredibly lousy investment of public money. Government has no business picking winners.

  13. Sademployee 2012.06.16

    It's terrible.We are all working in the same office bldg.& many of us are all applying for the same job openings. People are leaving work to go on job interviews while the rest of us watch wondering when we will get a job & during all this the work just keeps pouring in for us to do.Many are on MANDATORY 2 hrs. of overtime per day to keep up with the incoming work that the overseas buz centers and AZ center don't have a clue yet how to do.I feel sorry for the Watertown employees who will keep their jobs who will have to coordinate working with AZ and India.I have heard some of the clients are already NOT happy with the restructure.It is just plan unAmerican to outsource our jobs.I think CEO Curt Marks got talked into a poor buz move by 2 sharks he hired:1 from NY in sales and 1 from prev. employment at Best Buy, etc.I could care less what happens to the company from here & I hope it goes under.

  14. Ed 2013.03.28

    They just let most of the people in MN go today....

  15. Owen Reitzel 2013.03.28

    do you have any specifics Ed?

  16. Susan 2013.11.02

    Hello. You guys will be happy to hear that Curt Marks has sold VI to First Advantage. He has given up and moved on. They tell us "Business As Usual" for now, but soon everything will change. The VI name/process/systems will go away and we will be First Adv. Hopefully we will be employed by a real company now, with real processes (not half assed), real computer systems and real opportunities. I hope Curt enjoys his money and his lets us have a real chance at making a decent life for our selves and our families

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.11.03

    Thanks for that update, Susan! I assume that sale makes a nice profit for Marks?

  18. Susan 2013.11.09

    Of course!! I heard he is already working on starting another company...things are very slowly starting to change and well...let's just say I'm trying to keep an open mind. There is alot of hush-hush from the same people that told us they have an "open-door" policy and always have their office doors closed. We need more information but we are not getting any as of yet.

Comments are closed.