It’s no accident that the logo for Perry iSearch Partners is a tree.
According to Peggy Allen (Sewekow), the staffing and recruitment firm’s owner, president and CEO, it’s a symbolically rich image that perfectly encapsulates the essence of a South Jersey organization that “has mastered the art of bringing the right people together to build better companies” during its 50-year history.
“To me, a tree represents growth, branching out, reaching new heights—but also roots and a strong foundation,” she explains.
Much like a tree, the firm’s reputation has grown stronger through the years as it’s withstood the winds of change across the half-century since its 1972 beginnings as David Perry Associates. As customary at that time, job seekers paid the franchised search firm for its help finding jobs, cementing the firm’s reputation as being especially adept at placing entry-level consumer packaged goods (CPG) professionals in the local market. After establishing itself as a boutique executive search firm with a national reach by the early 1980s, it branched off into Perry Temps, a local staffing division, in 1986. This began in earnest, broadening its scope to filling local temporary roles to deliver even more staffing and recruitment options.
Nimbly pivoting to meet both evolving industry trends and shifting client demands have been the hallmark of Perry iSearch. As a result, its team has been able to offer a wide range of individualized employment solutions, enabling them to thrive over decades.
Allen joined the Perry team in 1995 as a researcher on the executive search side of the business, specializing in the placement of mid- and senior-level CPG professionals. After 20 years in the recruitment business, “I was starting to get the itch to do something on my own and started having conversations with the owners, and it was just perfect timing: They were ready to step back and I was ready to step up,” she recalls.
By 2015, she embraced the opportunity to learn more about the local staffing side, developing knowledge of the business from a higher level and expanding relationships in the local market. That agility, combined with Allen’s own tenacity driving her to “always ask what else I can do,” made the two a perfect fit when partners Jane Weiss and Ray Spadaro were looking for the next company leader.
Allen, with a previous partner, created iSearch Partners Inc. (DBA Perry) and purchased the holdings of both Perry Temps in late 2018 and David Perry Associates in early 2020. When they officially handed the baton to Allen, “It was like a dream come true, but it was a whole new world. You don’t know what a company looks like until you’re in that seat.”
Since taking the wheel, Allen has balanced honoring the company’s past with looking ahead to a bright future—and identifying ways to keep building better companies, one person at a time. She’s found that her own knack for mentorship, guidance and finding ways to help others seize upon life-changing opportunities have been invaluable assets in taking Perry iSearch to the next level while staying true to its mission of putting people first.
“I love helping people and this, to me, has always been very much about counseling others and talking to people about their careers and their development, and trying to find them a better situation,” says Allen. “One thing I do differently from the original owners is really embracing career counseling, which is my own personal style. I want to get to know you and know what your strengths are to bring you the best opportunities. It’s so important to make this personal. As a career coach, I help people reflect on their own personal (career) journey and point out the things about themselves that they should be proud of, giving them a boost of encouragement. Frequently, this is what helps them gain the confidence that they need to get the job offer.”
Allen is also keenly aware of how rare it is for a company to have spent half a century being either majority or solely women-owned, as well as how important it is to set an example for future female leaders. “We are proud to be a 100% woman-owned company,” she says, “It is a rigorous process, but well worth it.”
But she’s quick to note that she is not going it alone, and that the company’s success is a testament to its team, which still includes previous partner Ray Spadaro, who heads Perry iSearch’s executive search division.
“This company is all built around people,” she affirms. “We’re helping people aspire to new career heights, we’re helping people change their lives and find opportunities they might not have known about. … There’s been some bumps in the road, but we’re resilient, and there are some wonderful people working here who all help keep the business moving forward.”
Perry iSearch Partners
525 Route 73 S., Suite 201, Marlton