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The PEO Life Cycle

This month’s feature examines the PEO life cycle, and there’s no better way to do this than letting a variety of PEOs in different phases of their life cycles tell their stories.

We begin with three different start-ups:

  • One started by someone who spent his whole career in PEO, started one successful PEO, and then combined his corporate training and industry experience into a new model and new enterprise;
  • A start-up created by the CEO of a charter school management firm who considered hiring a PEO, but started his own PEO instead; and
  • A small family PEO started by someone with a background in insurance, investment strategies, and benefits who spent a decade in a family-owned PEO.

Now, on to the growth phase. We hear from:

  • A 10-year-old PEO whose strategy is following best practices, benchmarking, learning from growing pains, and delivering high value and transparency to achieve profitable growth;
  • A fairly young PEO that is gearing up for growth by building up its operation and developing services, maintaining company culture through selective hiring, and investing in a digital marketing platform; and
  • Another PEO with over a decade in the industry, which started up slowly and deliberately, planning with goals in mind, realizing that the only time it did not experience steady and significant growth was when it was not focused on re-investing and focusing on the sales operation.

This next one is a little different. Here we have a PEO with almost 20 years under its belt whose owners wanted to retire and bring in new management. This is the story about how the new exec approached and achieved the company’s transformation.

This feature would not be complete without taking a look at those who have been through the complete PEO life cycle, and then started all over again:

  • A PEO that bootstrapped in the mid-1990s, made it through the “dot-com” crash, but decided to sell after almost 20 years in business, only to start a new PEO with capital attracted by the owner’s two decades of PEO experience;
  • The never-say-never story of two PEO partners who sold their company in 1997, lived their lives, and then re-partnered in 2011 in a brand-new PEO; and
  • An industry icon who built one of the most successful PEOs in the industry and carried it through its entire life cycle, then built a new PEO from the ground up with a time-tested concept.
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Legal Currents

LGBT Protected Status in the Workplace

For several years, federal, state, and in some instances local laws have been on a steady march towards establishment of sexual orientation and transgender status as protected. Initially, courts confronted with the issue consistently declined to hold that general sex discrimination statutes prohibited discrimination against a gay or transgender person based on that person’s sexual orientation or identification with an opposite gender.1 More recently, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and some federal courts have opined that discrimination or harassment based on either such status, or “sexual stereotyping,” is unlawful sex discrimination,2 and more federal circuits and states are expected to follow, absent a contrary ruling from the United States Supreme Court.3 At least one federal court has intimated that gender dysphoria may even be a disability protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).4

Risk Management

The Importance of Risk Control in the PEO Relationship

One of the many valuable services PEOs provide to their clients is workers’ compensation and risk management. Because the workers’ compensation policy is generally in the name of the PEO, the PEO must strive for positive workers’ compensation results to ensure continuity of coverage and avoidance of untenable premium increases for its client base. PEOs are also uniquely positioned to provide meaningful risk control and safety support services to their clients. Positioned properly, PEOs may be able to present their risk management expertise to their clients as a differentiating factor at the point of sale.


The Top 10 Marketing Trends

One thing’s for certain—the tried and true way of marketing has changed. Marketing plans no longer involve creating clever jingles, purchasing overpriced run-of-paper ad space, and enduring endless rides to see if your billboards are blocked by tree branches. Not only have advertising outlets changed, but the direction of the message has also changed. Today, your marketing message isn’t about telling buyers how great you are—it’s about asking them about their needs and how you can help inform them so they can make an educated decision.


The Inside Word

Gratitude for a Great Year as Chair

As the saying goes, “All good things must come to an end,” so goes my role as chair of NAPEO’s Board of Directors. Soon I will be passing the gavel to Norman Paul, and he will begin his term as chair. I wish him well and assure you that NAPEO is in good hands.

NAPEO Notebook

Welcome to Orlando! Patrick J. Cleary

Statistically speaking, if you’re reading this, you’re probably in Orlando at our Annual Conference and Marketplace. We have a great turnout and the likelihood is that you’re here reading this month’s PEO Insider. If you’re not, you should be.

Up Front

NAPEO Branding/Marketing Project Aims to Drive New Customers to Your PEO Kerry Carruthers

NAPEO is putting your dues dollars to work with an exciting new branding and marketing effort that will grow the industry and drive new business to our members. The foundation of the project is in-depth brand analysis and research aimed at answering three key questions about the PEO industry: • Why do PEOs have the customers they have? • Why aren’t more businesses using PEOs? • What can NAPEO do to increase PEO market share?

Statehouse Update

Shaping NAPEO’s 2018 State Government Affairs Action Plan Daniel Harris

In August, NAPEO asked members to provide input on NAPEO’s 2018 State Action Plan. The annual exercise is designed to guide NAPEO and the State Government Affairs Committee (SGAC) as it contemplates which states and issues will be priorities of the association’s state legislative and regulatory plan for the next year and beyond. While it may feel routine, the feedback we receive from members on this survey and throughout the year, coupled with member participation in state government affairs, is essential to carrying out the mission and goals of NAPEO’s government affairs program.

Special Report

NAPEO’s New White Paper Reveals PEOs’ Positive Impact on Business Kerry Carruthers

The release of NAPEO’s ambitious fifth white paper, “PEOs: Good for Small Businesses and their Employees,” is the culmination of a years-long quest to prove through data what we in the industry already know to be true: Using a PEO is good for small businesses and their employees in a broad array of ways.

Legal Q&A

The Overtime Rule, W&H Opinion Letters, Joint Employer Issue, New I-9 Farrah L. Fielder, Esq.

Q. Has there been a new development with the overtime rule? A. Yes. On July 26, 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced the issuance of a Request for Information (RFI) on the overtime rule. Specifically, this RFI requests information to help the DOL formulate a proposal to “define and delimit exemptions” from minimum wage and overtime requirements for certain employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The questions asked relate not only to the salary level test but also to the duties test. The comment period is open to the public through September 25, 2017. For more information, please reach out to Thom Stohler ( or to me (

PEO Index

PEO Index Following Historical Pattern John Slavic

The PEO Employment Index is continuing to align with gross domestic product (GDP) as a historical pattern.

PEO Spotlight

Pacific HR, Inc.: Christina Nelson Chris Chaney

You might have a Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences, but that doesn’t mean you do your own payroll. Instead you turn to a PEO. As president of Pacific HR, Inc. and CEO of Pacific Payroll Partners, LLC (both companies formerly known as Pacific Staff Management Inc.), Christina once counted such a gentleman among her clients. ““He and his work were fascinating,” said Christina. “He called me out of the blue one day and we sat down and had a conversation. He was starting a business where he and his team would measure the size of bubbles of gas seeping up through the ocean’s floor.”

The Big Picture

Tax Reform: Hard Work and High Stakes Ahead Thomas J. Donohue

Members of Congress were back in their home states for August, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce isn’t taking any breaks. We’re busy preparing for the upcoming battle to pass pro-growth tax reform. We’re activating our extensive grassroots and small business network to build support from the ground up, even as we ramp up our lobbying, policy, and communications efforts in Washington. Our message is simple: Tax reform cannot wait.


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