PEO CEO Corner with Christopher Walton

Tell us about yourself and your background before you joined the PEO industry. 

I graduated with degrees in Business Management and International Human Resources.  In the beginning, I worked with various employment-based visas.  I hired and brought in professionals underemployment visas from 17 different countries to work in the US. My passion before the PEO focus was Hospital Administration focused specifically on Human Resources. During this time in my career, I worked in multiple healthcare settings from Hospitals to Psychiatric facilities.  I also had the opportunity to be a VP of HR for North America and Canada with Avis/Cendant corporation.

Please tell us a bit about the history of your PEO.  Did you start the PEO or joined the company later on? 

Kruse PEO evolved back in 2003 from our Staffing division of Clerical and Healthcare professionals.  We had the tools in place along with my HR background, so it just made sense.  We had client companies using our staffing services and therefore we moved into co-employment with those entities.  Initially, we started out in 2-3 states and as of 2018, we have PEO clients in 40+ states. I came back to Kruse PEO in 2003 and started the PEO division.

How do you explain the PEO services and benefits to a business owner who has not been involved with a PEO before?  

The first thing we do is simplify the process with them.  We make them recognize the liability they hold as an employer and then show them how our solution not only reduces their liability drastically, in many cases it can save them significant amounts of money based on our larger volume pricing.  We also show the owners how working with us we are able to offer their employees Fortune 500 benefits to a business their size for recruitment and retention.  We do not take the approach with the owners of “eliminating” a person they have currently. We believe in creating positions, not eliminating them.

What do you enjoy about the PEO industry? 

Honestly Everything.  I have a passion for HR and have always been in that mindset, so I guess the human side of the equation is and will always be my love for the challenges and opportunities within Human Relations.

Provide three points that you feel would differentiate your PEO from others. 

We are NOT corporate America.  Every client is treated like an individual and not like a corporation.  Every client of ours is unique to themselves with us and no “cookie cutter” mentality.  Every client has their OWN Account Manager as their single point of contact.  No “dial 3 for HR and 2 for accounting, etc.”.

The owners are fully active in the business and clients work with them daily, therefore it does not take critical time to make things happen.  We fully understand the importance of “making things happen quickly”.  We turn like a speedboat and not a cruise liner when making important decisions.

Staying individually owned for as long as possible.  We have NO plans to merge with a large corporation for many years to come.  We don’t want to lose that client “Kare” we have been providing for 25+ years now.

What is your current opinion on the PEO industry and what is your projection for the days to come?    

Growth? I only see growth in the future.  With the ever-changing state and national regulatory bodies and updates, it is near impossible for a small to medium size organization to maintain compliance.  Having an HR person used to be enough to keep a small to medium size business compliant, but in today’s times that is next to impossible.  Especially in some states where the regulatory agencies basically create overhead positions in entities to maintain compliance.

Threats?  Same answer…..Regulatory agencies will continue to evolve and create additional regulations and laws to keep PEO’s and employers compliant.  Every state has its own unique regulations for not only PEO compliance but Employment Law compliance.  Then you throw in the OSHA component which is a full-time overhead position all of its own.

What two or three things can a PEO Broker improve on to assist you in helping them to advocate on behalf of their client? 

Brokers need to assess the client’s ability to understand the operations of HR, Payroll, Tax Compliance, Risk Management and the like.  Many times, we have new clients come on and they are not even aware of the basic requirements employers must maintain to function as a business.  Yes, as a PEO we take those issues off their plate, but they must understand the overall concept of compliance and what that entails.  The other fact brokers can assist with is to show to the potential clients the “risk shift” that occurs by moving to a PEO.  If Brokers could help them understand the liability they relinquish by working with a PEO it makes the “sell” that much easier.

Who is your ideal client? 

There are no ideal clients per se.  Our philosophy is we are here to make a client that much stronger.  Let them do what they do best, and we will take care of the rest.  The ideal client would be one that is willing and able to allow us, as a PEO, to handle the issues we can control and take our invested knowledge and experience to make them a better company to work with and for.  We want to be a caveat for a small business to become larger and stronger and eventually if they want to go out on their own.

Is your company active in the community or with a particular charity?

If so, please describe the involvement.  Yes, we are active in our Chamber of Commerce and community, but we want to continue to strive to do more for our community.  This is one area in our 1-3-year goal planning to become even stronger and give back!

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