A Q&A WITH RMI
A MINORITY-OWNED PEO WITH FAMILY ROOTS
Reinaldo Lopez, Sr. started Resource Management, Inc. (RMI) in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, in 1995. Besides recently celebrating 25 years in business, RMI was named the Best Minority-Owned Business in the Worcester Business Journal’s Best of Business 2021 awards for professional services, for the third time in three years. The U.S. Department of Commerce named RMI the Minority Professional Services Firm of the Year in 2018. RMI Chief Executive Officer Reinaldo Lopez and his children, President Rachel Lopez, Vice President Alex Lopez, and Director Naldi Lopez, recently spoke with PEO Insider® about their company.
Naldi Lopez, Reinaldo Lopez, Rachel Lopez, and Alex Lopez
HOW & WHY DID RMI BECOME A MINORITY-OWNED BUSINESS?
ALEX LOPEZ: RMI has been a minority-owned business from its inception. We looked into becoming Minority Certified for several years, and in 2012 finally began the formal process. We decided to do this to provide services to other minority-owned businesses. Another advantage was to be able to participate in projects that are earmarked solely for minority-owned businesses. We became certified through the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council, which is the organization that certifies minority businesses as such. To maintain the certification, we have to renew it every year.
REINALDO LOPEZ, SR.: Our certification was finalized in 2013. Some of the requirements were that we had to be in business for more than one year and the minority owners had to be actively involved in running the business. Our executive team was interviewed by a minority council to ensure we were qualified for our positions. We were encouraged by the possibility of contracting with other minority-owned businesses, increased access to partnerships and business opportunities, connections to other businesses, and access to valuable resources we otherwise would not have had. In addition, we are exposed to local opportunities for additional revenue sources. Becoming certified also opens the door to a myriad of opportunities, educational/training programs, and being introduced to connections that are extremely valuable in a competitive market.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A MINORITY-OWNED BUSINESS?
RACHEL LOPEZ: Our certification gives us recognition as a minority-owned business in the community. Due to our size, we are also recognized as the largest minority business in the state and one of the largest in the nation. The minority community responds very favorably, as one of its own has been recognized as a business that excels. Some companies are also looking to increase diversity with their business partners, and contracting with a minority-owned business allows them to do this. The community where we are headquartered is extremely diverse and we reflect that diversity.
HAS YOUR PEO BEEN ACTIVE IN DIVERSITY, INCLUSION, & OPPORTUNITY INITIATIVES WITHIN YOUR OWN COMPANY, WITH YOUR CLIENTS, & IN THE COMMUNITY?
NALDI LOPEZ: RMI has programs in place to assist minority enterprises to succeed and will allow such enterprises to bid on services we require, and we award contracts to other minority-owned businesses. Within our company, our workforce is probably as diverse as any company. We strive to hire a team of people with diverse backgrounds. We have found that this diversity adds creativity, different ideas, innovative solutions, and a perspective that we would otherwise not have.
WHAT INSIGHTS CAN YOU SHARE WITH OTHERS ABOUT CREATING A CULTURE THAT SUPPORTS DIVERSITY, INCLUSION, & OPPORTUNITY?
RACHEL: Creating a culture that supports diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity has been a key to our success. RMI draws from various talents to support and grow the business. Our employees bring with them specific identities that reflect their backgrounds. This diversity brings a different perspective that lends itself to creativity within the team. As a side note, it is also great when we have a company luncheon and are exposed to different flavors that we may not have even known exist.
HOW DOES IT SET YOU APART FROM OTHER PEOS? WHY SHOULD A BUSINESS PURSUE BECOMING A MINORITY BUSINESS ENTERPRISE (MBE)?
REINALDO: The great majority of PEOs are not minority certified. There is a desire by many larger companies to partner with minority-owned businesses to diversify their portfolio of suppliers. RMI has an advantage over other PEOs in those situations. Minority-owned businesses should seek certification, as there are many opportunities, including offering services to larger corporations and government entities. Not every minority-owned business may benefit from becoming minority certified. They have to put the time and effort into attending the networking opportunities, as well as reaching out and looking for companies seeking to contract with minority businesses. This in return allows you to truly take advantage of the certification.
DOES BEING AN MBE PROVIDE NETWORKING & EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
ALEX: Yes, many opportunities for education and networking are presented to MBEs. The executive team and I have all participated in educational programs geared to help MBEs excel in leadership and best practices. There are also significant networking events organized by many minority-owned businesses. Although only a portion of our revenues are derived from MBEs or because of our certification, we are always trying to increase participation in the market.
WHAT ARE SOME CHALLENGES YOU HAVE FACED AS AN MBE & WHAT ARE SOME THINGS YOU HAVE LEARNED ALONG THE WAY?
ALEX: The primary challenge we have faced has been coming up with enough capital to expand. Due to a lack of knowledge by others about the PEO industry, gaining the trust of other minority-owned businesses was challenging. Once they became educated about what a PEO is and what services we offer to improve their businesses, they understood and began welcoming us and our services. That said, we do surround ourselves with great advisors who have helped us navigate through these waters. Our board is very diversified and is made up of members with experience in finance, labor law, and IT support, and successful business owners. We have learned we can accomplish more if we include a broad spectrum of advisors.
RMI IS ALSO A FAMILY-OPERATED COMPANY. HOW DID THAT COME TO BE?
NALDI: RMI is primarily a family-owned business. In 1995 it was established to serve the HR needs of small employers. It was also a way to support the family financially. From the beginning, our family worked at RMI in different capacities and learned the HR outsourcing and co-employment business. Today, the family has assumed most of the responsibility for running the business. It was a natural progression that from the inception of RMI through today we have maintained a family presence within the company.
WHAT DO BEING NAMED 2018 MINORITY PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FIRM OF THE YEAR BY THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE & THE BEST MINORITY-OWNED BUSINESS BY THE WORCESTER BUSINESS JOURNAL (WBJ) MEAN TO YOUR PEO?
RACHEL: Due to RMI’s quest for great customer service and its ability to help small to mid-size businesses compete better in their marketplaces, we have been recognized as a top professional service provider. As a matter of fact, the WBJ named RMI as the Best Minority-Owned Business for three consecutive years. Being named as the top professional services provider in the nation by the U.S. Department of Commerce was a huge accomplishment and honor. In 2018, the WBJ also named me as the Family Business Leader of the Year. These recognitions have made other communities aware of the great potential that RMI as a PEO has. They have also opened doors to us for opportunities that would otherwise not have been there.
WHAT IS SOME ADVICE YOU CAN OFFER TO OTHER MINORITY-OWNED PEOS IN THE INDUSTRY?
RACHEL: The PEO industry is not easy, although it is wonderful and exciting. Being minority-owned is also a competitive advantage and is something that has to be seized. RMI strives to work and collaborate with other PEO owners by getting involved in NAPEO and other state chapters/organizations of the industry, which has helped us enormously. Members of the management team are involved in the NAPEO Legal Advisory Council and the CEO is a board member of the Florida Association of Professional Employer Organizations (FAPEO). We have found it important and extremely helpful to ask questions and seek out advice and counsel from other PEOs, as this industry has great business leaders who are always willing to assist and speak on their experience.
WHERE DO YOU SEE RMI IN 10 YEARS? WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE INDUSTRY?
RACHEL: RMI hopes to be a leader not only in the local community, but also extend its reach as a strong regional and national player. We receive great inspiration from being part of this industry. It is not often when a company can offer services that benefit business owners, the government, and the community. As we continue to work with other industry leaders, we see that the goal of helping other businesses will be expanded. This in turn helps make the community as a whole more successful. We are also inspired by striving to provide exceptional service to our clients, which in turn helps them grow their businesses.