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Spice House Recovers From Fire, Comes Back Even Stronger, With Hands-On Support From the Launchways Business Insurance Team

Founded in 1957, The Spice House is a purveyor of the finest spices, herbs, blends, and extracts to customers ranging from renowned Michelin-star chefs to home cooks everywhere. They’ve spent over 60 years curating their global network of premium growers and distributors to offer their customers unrivaled quality and selection. Spice house is now the fastest-growing craft spice merchant in the Midwest, thanks to a booming eCommerce business.

Spice House started working with Launchways during a change of ownership amid a period of rapid growth. When a Private Equity firm initiated the process of buying Spice House from its original owners in 2017, they brought on Charlie Mayer as the company’s new CEO. Immediately upon assessing the business’ processes, Charlie knew that he had to overhaul the company’s HR systems, payroll operations, and benefits to accommodate Spice House’s growth and help it grow at an even faster rate.

While he considered working with a PEO, Charlie decided to work with Launchways instead because we offered customized solutions with the one-stop-shop appeal of a PEO. Our HR advisors were also able to provide expert guidance to Charlie and his team through the change in ownership and guide them through any challenges that arose during Spice House’s continued growth. And unlike a PEO, we were also able to replace Spice House’s existing business insurance, which could not meet the needs of a rapidly expanding eCommerce food industry company.

Because Spice House lacked any centralized HR systems, Launchways implemented an all-in-one HRMS platform that handles employee record-keeping, new-hire onboarding, time and attendance, and payroll using systems that could scale with Spice House’s rapid growth. We also consolidated employee benefits to a single vendor, made benefits available to all Spice House employees, and increased coverage for health, dental, vision, life, and added a 401k at a cost-savings of 16% a year compared to their previous benefits package.

But one aspect of our partnership that turned out to have an extremely significant impact on Spice House’s ability to continue to grow and succeed was our work revamping the company’s business insurance. Their previous vendor refused to renew the company’s coverage due to the change of ownership and rapid expansion, so Spice House needed a business insurance solution that would meet their current and future needs. Our insurance experts conducted an audit of the business and put together comprehensive and cost-effective coverage package that could scale as the company grew.

Little did anybody know how important that coverage would become to Spice House’s future just two years later.

In early July 2019, a repairman sent by Spice House’s landlord to fix the store’s roof accidentally lit the roof on fire with a blowtorch. The response by the fire department was swift and effective but it wasn’t enough to save the company’s inventory as Charlie reports,

“The fire department put the fire out quickly but they used a lot of water, so everything on the floor and in the basement was ruined.”

But the damage to the building was an even greater risk to his company’s ability to stay open, let alone expand. If he hadn’t had comprehensive business insurance, that Spice House location might have been driven out of business. But the coverage that Launchways had previously negotiated ensured that Spice House could weather the fire damage,

“In addition to having a significant loss in terms of our building and our product, we were closed for four months. Because we had business interruption insurance we not only recovered our lost income but we were also able to keep our staff employed through the interruption.”

One reason why the store was closed for so long was the complexity involved in resolving the claim. Since the fire was started by a contractor hired by the landlord, Spice House had to navigate shifting liability between multiple parties.

The landlord had to get the contractor to pay for the damage to the building before they could begin repairing the damage, greatly increasing the amount of time that Spice House’s store was closed. At the same time, Spice House’s initial insurance adjuster worked extremely slowly and was eventually fired by the insurance company. Launchways worked diligently to get a new adjuster on the case immediately, and then worked hand-in-hand with that party to ensure the claim was paid out quickly.

Throughout the process, the Launchways team handled the communications between the different parties and insurance companies so that Spice House could focus on their business, as Tim Taylor, the head of the Launchways business insurance team, explained:

“Because the fire was caused by a third-party roofing company that was fixing the roof, we had to work with not only the landlord and the roofing insurance company but also our insurer. When there is a large claim like this, we check in twice a week with the end adjuster at our insurance company and also check in with our insured to make sure that they don’t have any questions, that they know the timeline, and that they know when they can expect the money to be paid out for this type of a loss.”

Launchways’ hands-on approach made all the difference for Charlie, making a stressful and potentially costly process as easy and productive as possible,

“Having Launchways to talk to is kind of like having an older sibling who’s been there before and can tell you what to expect. About once a week I would get on the phone with Tim and say okay, here’s what’s going on, is this normal, should we expect more, what can I do? And he would tell me what to do and occasionally take it upon himself to go figure out what was broken and get it fixed.”

With Launchways handling communications with the insurers, landlord, and contractor, Charlie was able to focus on rebuilding Spice House’s store better than ever.

“I’ll never say that having a fire is a good thing but in the end, it was an opportunity to think about the store we wanted to have and to build that store. We had that opportunity because we had the right team together to help us recover and help us think about rebuilding. Tim gave us the confidence we needed to just proceed. When the process finally started to click, the fact that we had everything ready to go made it all work.”

Now, Spice House is stronger than ever with a new storefront that fits their brand and is helping them grow even faster. This challenging chapter ended up fueling their business because they had the proper coverage and an active partner and consultant in Launchways. It’s rare for a company’s business insurance coverage to be put to the test as Spice House’s has been and Charlie is more than pleased with the results. Going forward, he can run his business with more confidence than ever, knowing that Spice House can withstand anything that fate sends its way,

“I just don’t lose sleep about insurance because you just need someone who understands the process who will talk to you honestly about what to do and that’s what Launchways did for us.”

Mighty Hook Saves Big on Business Insurance with Launchways

Mighty Hook is the largest manufacturer of hanging solutions and masking products for industrial finishing and powder coating processes. Mighty Hook has on-site engineers to improve efficiency through custom solutions. Their mission is to provide customers with high-quality, innovative, cost-effective products to improve their hanging efficiency and productivity in paint, powder, and e-coat processes.

Mighty Hook relies on its highly-skilled employees to innovate customized solutions for its clients, so the company takes employee compensation and engagement extremely seriously. For Scott Rampala, Mighty Hook President and CEO, it’s all about balancing offering competitive employee compensation and competitive rates for customers. The key to meeting the needs of employees and clients alike is to minimize human resources overhead, optimize employee compensation packages, and reduce business insurance costs so he can allocate resources where they matter most.

Scott first turned to Launchways when he decided to conduct an employee compensation audit eight years ago to better compete for talent while keeping costs low. The Launchways team facilitated the audit by ensuring that the auditor had the payroll information they needed to accurately assess Mighty Hook’s employee compensation. This included payroll data and departmental allocation to guide the auditor in determining the correct total payroll investment and compensation for individual employees depending on their employee classifications.

The audit successfully aligned Mighty Hook’s compensation strategy with their talent acquisition and business goals. Scott also decided to bring in Launchways to manage the company’s payroll processing so he could be sure that his employees were being taken care of without draining valuable internal resources. As he describes the value of Launchways’ payroll services,

“Payroll can be a touchy subject and Launchways does a great job of tracking the vital sensitive information and limiting access to key stakeholders. Best of all, I can rely on Launchways to make sure our employees are paid on time, which is a huge peace of mind for me and my team. It means that I can focus on reaching our business goals rather than the details of employee compensation.”

But the most lasting effect of Mighty Hook’s partnership with Launchways has been the reduction of business insurance costs across the board year after year. Before working with Launchways, Mighty Hook tended to renew their plans with their existing business insurance providers. Launchways brought a new approach to Mighty Hook’s insurance, taking the plans to the open market each year to find the best deals. This approach allows Mighty Hook to be much more flexible, as Scott explains,

“Every year our Launchways representative comes in and takes our worker’s comp, general liability, and property and casualty and moves it to the open market. In some instances, we’ve sourced our plans from a range of providers, although most recently we discovered that shopping our entire business insurance operation to a single provider generated the biggest savings.”

This flexibility has paid off for Mighty Hook year after year. As Scott describes, Launchways’ proactive approach to reevaluating insurance carriers annually has helped him cut costs so he can provide greater value for his customers while providing competitive employee compensation.

“The approach to taking our insurance to the open market every year is far preferable to our old model of just renewing with our existing carriers. It allows us to remain competitive and get the best value year after year. On average, we’ve probably seen a 4-5% decrease in costs each year and in the last year alone we saw an impressive 10% decrease in our insurance costs. Those savings are good for our bottom-line, our clients, and our employees.”

Beyond the concrete savings that Launchways has delivered for Mighty Hook, Scott values Launchways’ role as HR consultants. No matter what payroll, benefits, insurance, or HR challenges Mighty Hook faces, Launchways provides streamlined and cost-effective solutions without the Mighty Hook team having to dedicate valuable resources to addressing the challenges internally. This matters because the less time they spend on business insurance or human resources, the more time they can spend on their business.

Tandem Improves Benefits and Employee Education with Launchways

Tandem is a trusted strategy, design, and technology partner. They deliver custom software that inspires people and drives business forward. Their unique process brings every voice to the table. Their human-centered design process brings in customers, researchers, engineers, and designers to approach every problem with a broad set of perspectives. And they partner with their clients to solve their most meaningful challenges – for their customers, employees, and the community.

As a human-centered business, employee benefits have always been important to Tandem. The company recently partnered with Launchways to take its already competitive benefits package to the next level. We spoke to Tandem CEO, JC Grubbs, to learn more about his experience with Launchways.

Before working with Launchways, Tandem already offered a robust benefits package. The talent market for tech companies like Tandem is extremely competitive, and Tandem sees its benefits as a key part of the strategy to win over top talent. Working with Launchways, Tandem sought to offer a benefits package that only took care of its team, but also offered unique, impactful benefits that would help set Tandem apart in the pursuit for top talent to join their team.

As he looked for a new broker to help him in this effort, JC Grubbs said he was attracted to Launchways because of our hands-on approach to benefits and HR,

“Our previous broker was just a broker, there was very little education with our team. I liked the Launchways approach of combining team education and HR consulting to support us as managers, in addition to the brokerage aspect of the partnership.”

Another thing about the Launchways approach that stood out to him was the fact that unlike most brokers, Launchways understood the fact that he wanted to improve Tandem’s benefits, not just cut costs at the expense of employee happiness,

“Benefits are a big part of how we compete in the market for talent and Launchways prioritized improving our benefits to make us even more competitive while at the same time saving us money.”

So what did this new package look like? The Launchways team negotiated a BlueChoice PPO that cost Tandem less than their previous base-plan while offering significantly more comprehensive coverage for employees. Launchways also educated employees about the plan changes during open enrollment. As a result, many employees switched from the previously offered plan to the newly rolled out plan.

Education was key to the success of these efforts, as JC Grubbs noted,

“Launchways has also done a great job of giving our employees access to benefits information. The Employee Navigator platform lets our team members find out what they need to know about their benefits and choose the right plans for their needs.”

Now, Tandem is spending less on its benefits, employees are spending less, and team members have better coverage than ever. At the same time, Launchways worked with Tandem to expand dental, vision, and ancillary insurance while reducing the costs of these plans.

Another major win from the partnership was the successful launch of Tandem’s HealthiestYou telemedicine implementation. As JC Grubbs commented, the telemedicine platform has been a huge hit with his team,

“As a company that is fairly young and tech-savvy, we’ve seen a lot of engagement with telemedicine. It makes a big difference to our team members who have new families. It has been very well received and is a competitive advantage to us in the hiring process. Launchways consistently brings in new ideas around benefits, suggesting solutions like telemedicine that we would not even have known existed without such an active benefits partner.”

Launchways was just as impressed by the success of the Tandem telemedicine implementation. Launchways benefits consultants on the Tandem project noted Tandem has the highest telemedicine utilization rate of any Launchways client. This success shows the potential for telemedicine to have a significant impact for companies looking to care for and attract young, tech-savvy talent.

We asked JC Grubbs if he had any advice for other business owners who are considering working with Launchways. Once again, the value of Launchways’ hands-on, personal approach shined through.

“It’s all about people, get to know as much of the Launchways team as you can. The Launchways team is super responsive, engaged, and passionate about benefits. Build some rapport and trust, which I think will come very quickly, and make your decision based on that. Because in my experience, Launchways just delivers.”

Artisan Talent Navigates Interstate Compliance & Reduces Insurance Costs by 15% with Launchways

Artisan Talent is a digital, creative, and marketing staffing   agency that does things a little differently. They take a unique approach to making the right connections by realizing that they are humans helping humans – companies and talent alike. From small agencies to major corporations, this boutique staffing agency is in the business of connecting people – and they never forget it. That’s what makes them Artisan.

Bejan Douraghy founded Artisan Talent in Chicago in 1988 and the business has grown rapidly ever since. It tripled in size in the first five years and has now expanded outside of Illinois with offices in eight cities including New York, Denver, and San Francisco.

But that rapid growth has come with compliance and benefits challenges, with legislative changes and differences in requirements between states. And Artisan Talent has provided a full-scope benefits package for its freelance talent since 1995, so they have to manage benefits and compliance for their freelancers as well as the employees in their multiple offices.

Bejan first approached Launchways in 2016 after it became clear that new legislation threatened to cause compliance issues. He knew that Artisan Talent would have to adapt to meet the legislation, but did not have a clear idea of what the exact compliance challenges were or how to address them. As Bejan explained,

“We went to Launchways and they came back to us with a strategic solution to help us with ACA compliance issues. It was very helpful to us because we didn’t know what exactly it all meant and going through the audit with Launchways gave us the top priorities of what we had to do to maintain compliance.”

As Artisan Talent expanded to cities outside of Illinois, they also came up against the challenge of meeting the compliance requirements set by each state. Once again, Launchways helped Bejan and his team get a clear sense of what was required and developed strategies to bring the company into compliance efficiently and effectively.

“Launchways has supported us through our growth. Compliance requirements and available benefits vary widely between states. Launchways has been invaluable in letting us know what we need to do in each state.”

The initial compliance audit also led to a conversation about how Launchways could support Artisan Talent’s broader HR and benefits functions. After the revelations from the audit, Artisan Talent decided to conduct the Launchways Human Resources Best Practices Assessment to get instant insight into how to streamline the way they managed expenses across their human resources, employee benefits, and business insurance operations. The assessment and strategies Launchways put forward allowed Artisan Talent to reduce their overall insurance costs by 15%.

One of the key parts of this initiative was streamlining Artisan Talent’s benefits enrollment process. Launchways implemented new enrollment software that simplified the process for the Artisan HR team and resulted in a better experience for their talent. Bejan had this to say about the enrollment project:

“Before Launchways, we were doing everything in-house which obviously took us a lot of time, Launchways implemented an automated system that made it much more cost-effective. Not only is it easier for us, but the platform serves as a one-stop-shop for our employees, letting them review the plan options and enroll in the plan that works best for them.”

Launchways will continue to help Artisan Talent improve its processes and benefits offerings, as well as maintain compliance as the company expands to even more cities around the country. Beyond recommending and implementing new systems and strategies, the Launchways team also serves as an on-call resource for Bejan as he navigates HR, benefits, and compliance issues. As he says,

“As a CEO I don’t have time to research all of the issues, I need to be able to go to the experts and get what I need from them. The Launchways team members are experts in the HR and benefits field, which is highly complex, and they always come back to me with a solution which is technology-driven and which I can easily understand and implement.”

Lindemann Improves Benefits, Reduces Insurance Costs, and Tackles Ongoing Business Challenges with Launchways

Insurance is Just the Start

Lindemann is the nation’s largest chimney service company. It was founded in 1969 by former Fire Captain Gary Lindemann and continues to service Chicago’s North Shore and Northern Suburban Area. The company specializes in chimney re-lining, repair, diagnosing, gas logs, hearth appliances, and masonry. Lindemann Chimney applies its core values based on honesty and integrity to deliver exceptional customer service and an empowering work environment.

Michael Boudart, President of Lindemann, shared with us the value that Launchways has brought to his business over the eight years that we have worked together.

From the beginning, Launchways served as much more than just a benefits broker for Lindemann. For Michael and his team, insurance was just the start of what Launchways does to fuel the business’s success and ease their growing pains.

As a chimney service company with a large fleet of vehicles and extensive field team, business insurance was a top priority for Lindemann and was the origin of the company’s partnership with Launchways. Their employee benefits were just as important and the Launchways team has worked with Lindemann to add value for their team members year after year. As Michael put it,

“Our business is founded on the ideals of empowering our employees and treating our team and customers with honesty and integrity. This means making sure that we take care of our employees and their families. Launchways has gone beyond what we expected from a benefits broker to suggest new ways of helping our employees while saving money along the way.”

One recent addition to the benefits package has been particularly popular with Lindemann’s employees. Just this past year, Launchways implemented a telemedicine solution for Lindemann, which allows their employees to reach doctors online or over the phone and get the prescriptions they need. This solution has made a big difference for the company’s team members, especially those with families. At the same time, Launchways rolled out new benefits administration software that streamlines enrollment and upgraded both dental and vision insurance.

Since they started working with Launchways as their employee benefits and business insurance broker, Lindemann has experienced rapid growth and faced the inevitable growing pains and hard decisions that come with scaling a business. Their growth has required new benefits, HR strategies and policies, more intentional fleet management, and critical business strategy choices.

Throughout this process, Michael has looked to Launchways to provide not only solutions but advice.

“The Launchways team is super responsive. I can use them as a sounding board and get advice on the spur of the moment which has been invaluable. I see the Launchways team as business consultants in many ways and it has been very good for us. I don’t hesitate to pick up the phone if I have a question or I want their advice on a situation that I might find myself in.”

Building A Safer Fleet and Saving Money Along the Way

As Lindemann has grown, so has their fleet which now includes more than 50 vehicles. Managing this expanding fleet has become one of the main challenges that Lindemann and Launchways are working together to address.

One of the issues created by the larger fleet was the rising cost of the company’s auto insurance. Launchways implemented a multi-prong approach based on telematics to decrease these insurance costs while increasing workplace safety and overall fleet expenses.

Sally Resch, Fleet Manager at Lindemann, explained more.

“Launchways has implemented a Fleet 360 vehicle monitoring system at no cost to us. We received upfront discounts from insurers for using the system and expect to qualify for more discounts. The best part is that we are keeping our team members safe when they are out in the field, but the impact on our bottom line is also significant. As the Fleet Manager, the monitoring system makes my job easier and gives me peace of mind.”

Overall, the telematics system has helped Lindemann save 20% on their auto insurance with more potential savings as they continue to use the system. During the same period, Lindemann has seen a 70% decrease in fleet accidents. And the system’s dashboard lets Sally and her team review driving incidents such as speeding and hard-braking to address poor driving habits by employees.

Looking to the Future

Lindemann and Launchways have been working together for eight years. Along the way, Launchways has helped the Lindemann team grow their company and tackle business issues by providing business insurance and employee benefits solutions as well as hands-on consultation. Instead of growing stagnant over the years, the relationship has only deepened and allowed Launchways to provide even greater value for Lindemann and their team.

Having implemented telemedicine, new dental and vision benefits, and fleet telematics, Lindemann is now partnering with Launchways to overhaul their entire HR function. Their team has grown significantly over the years and we look forward to working with them to expand their HR systems and policies to better serve their employees.