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CoreCentric Streamlines HR Operations & Creates a Strategic Employee Benefits Solution with Launchways

CoreCentric has been helping clients around the world build business value and increase customer satisfaction through the recovery, repair, and return of appliances, parts, and related consumer goods since 1995.

In 2016, CoreCentric got the funding they needed to consolidate and strengthen their overall operations by opening a new centralized global headquarters. While the move set the company up for continued growth, their CFO Brian Cassell realized that CoreCentric needed to rethink their entire approach to HR and get more strategic in order to manage these new whole-company responsibilities in ways that were scalable and made sense. As Brian said himself,

Our HR processes were very manual and time-consuming. Because of this, our staff’s time was spent mostly on putting out day- to-day fires rather than moving forward long-term strategic objectives. We had challenges unifying the HR function behind the company’s long-term strategic goals.” 

CoreCentric identified that they needed to address every aspect of their HR function, from hiring processes and workload planning to employee benefits. They realized their relationship with their benefits broker had stagnated, and they were dissatisfied with both their rising premiums and the lack of effort being put into empowering them to manage costs better.

Initially, CoreCentric planned to start self-funding their benefits to address some of these needs, but they quickly realized that the numbers just didn’t make sense for a business in their position. CoreCentric reached out to Launchways looking for a total HR partner who could help them streamline operations and address benefits overspend. After just a few exploratory conversations, Brian knew Launchways was the way to go.

I felt that Launchways provided more value at a significant cost-savings. For us, Launchways presented an end-to-end solution to tackle our HR challenges. I knew Launchways would be a very good ongoing resource for our team moving forward.” 

Launchways’ first action item was to assess and benchmark CoreCentric’s current approach to HR from top to bottom. When they realized the department was understaffed in a way that would make expedient improvement difficult, Launchways’ own team members provided ad hoc support to make their consultancy impactful as quickly as possible. 

With some guidance from Launchways, CoreCentric was able to automate and outsource time- and human-intensive HR tasks to create more time for strategic HR initiatives. From there, Launchways immediately transitioned into helping CoreCentric develop a new approach to hiring that would help the company continue to grow. As Brian says,

Now, we’re strategically automating portions of our HR operations and it’s resulting in huge time savings for our team. With the time we save, we’re able to focus on bigger-picture issues rather than constantly dealing with putting out day-to- day problems as they come up.” 

With the HR function improved and a roadmap for continued hiring success in place, Launchways passed the reins back to CoreCentric’s core HR team while continuing to consult them on emerging strategic HR best practices.

At the same time, Launchways completely took over benefits management for CoreCentric, further reducing the workload on the internal team and setting HR up to maximize their attention on hiring and strategic growth initiatives. Unlike their old broker, Launchways was able to help CoreCentric fully understand and manage the balance between employee benefits offerings, attracting great talent, and managing ongoing costs. They also connected CoreCentric with powerful best practices for enrollment and employee benefits education.

Launchways helped us craft a strategic benefits program. They did all of the research and presented the best practices – they vetted all the information before presenting it to us so we could make informed purchase decisions. Our entire strategy and process around benefits is much more automated now with Launchways’ help.

Just a few years later, CoreCentric’s health insurance carrier announced a major rate hike, which they felt the provider could not adequately explain. Fed up with being in a traditional employee benefits model, they worked with Launchways again to help them transition toward self-funding once and for all.

Launchways helped CoreCentric shop carriers to find self-funded benefit options, and even though none of the offerings made sense for CoreCentric’s immediate future, Launchways provided a strong interim solution, connecting CoreCentric with a more cost-effective, transparent carrier as the company grows toward self-funding.

CoreCentric came away extremely satisfied with their strategic partnership with Launchways, both from an HR maximization and employee benefits optimization standpoint. CFO Brian Cassell believes the company will continue its relationship with Launchways to continue implementing innovative, strategic HR and employee benefit initiatives:

“I see Launchways as our long-term strategic partner. It’s a relationship that continues to evolve and I know as we grow they will continue to ensure we’re following best practices and providing maximum value to our employees. If you’re looking for a strategic solution provider versus just a broker, Launchways is the place to work with.” 

Key Takeaways:

  • Launchways provided CoreCentric with significant employee benefits savings as well as a path towards the independence and reliability of self-funding.
  • Launchways identified and corrected inefficiencies in CoreCentric’s approach to HR, creating new time for strategy and minimizing day-to-day firefighting.
  • Launchways created a framework for talent acquisition and management that will help CoreCentric scale up in powerful, sensible ways.
  • Launchways helped CoreCentric provide and present employee benefits in a way that attracts, engages, and delights talent without breaking the bank.

Ruprecht Improves Workplace Safety and Forges HR & Benefits Partnership with Launchways

Ruprecht has been an essential part of the Chicago meatpacking industry since 1860. They provide food service businesses and retail establishments with a stable supply of raw proteins with global sourcing and exacting standards as a division of Kilcoy Global Foods, complete with five premium beef brands. More recently, Ruprecht has become the industry’s leading provider of sous vide cooked proteins that save chefs valuable time and increase food safety.

In early 2019, Ruprecht prioritized modernizing their HR and benefits in order to foster an overall more productive and engaged workforce. The company’s leadership team had recently changed and new CFO Frank Patton and the rest of the executive team wanted to focus on building a positive workplace,

“Ruprecht as a company has been around since 1860, so we’ve got longstanding history and longstanding employees in our organization. But it didn’t feel like we were really helping them with their high-touchpoint activities. The CEO and I had come on board at Ruprecht and were very focused on making the culture more employee-centric and started evaluating how we did core things within our organization.” said Frank Patton.

As Frank and the rest of the team looked at what they could change about how Ruprecht operates to make it more employee-centric, they came to realize that they needed to overhaul their benefits package and human resources administration. But while they knew what they needed to change, they did not know how best to go about optimizing their benefits package and HR systems. They needed a more proactive HR partner who could guide them through the process rather than just connecting them with vendors. As Frank elaborates,

“As you would expect, benefits and all things payroll-related are big touchpoints for our employees. And so it was really at the beginning of our time at Ruprecht that we started to evaluate areas of our business that needed some care and feeding. We started to evaluate our partners and realized we didn’t have the right partner for HR administration and benefits who could be a thought-leader for us to help us understand how we should look at big cultural elements such as benefits.”

The Ruprecht team discovered Launchways through a trusted business referral and quickly realized that the Launchways approach aligned well with their goals for how they wanted Ruprecht to operate. And, best of all, Launchways promised to be the active, engaged partner that Frank and the leadership team was looking for,

“We started having conversations with Launchways and realized that there was very good alignment between how Launchways was approaching business and the business model and what we were looking for. I would say this is a huge differentiation for Launchways. They very much want to embed themselves within their clients’ businesses. If you’re going to be a partner, you can’t be a drive-by partner. You have to be somebody who is actively involved in the discussion.”

Launchways worked with the new Director of Human Resources, Ryan Klatt, to review and streamline existing HR processes and identify the ideal HR technology solution to improve the experience for the HR team and the entire Ruprecht team. Launchways was able to put together a comprehensive technology suite that met Ruprecht’s needs and fell well within their budget. Launchways also evaluated Ruprecht’s current benefits package and put together a proposal for a new benefits package based on employee needs and financial considerations. As Frank reports, Launchways’ transparency was refreshing and empowering, especially from a finance perspective,

“Launchways gives you complete transparency. You get a view of here’s what that brokerage fee relationship was and here’s how we drive value. So from a financial person’s perspective, it was wonderful. I know what my spend was, I know what I’m going to spend in the new relationship, and I know the value that I’m going to get.”

This new approach to HR and benefits gave the Ruprecht team valuable peace-of-mind and clarity regarding their benefits strategy. What used to be a complex and frustrating expense with limited impact for employees and unclear ROI became a positive force in building a more engaged workplace,

“For us, it’s transformed our view of how we should look and think about benefits. It’s open-book, completely transparent, and this is a great area to do that with because it’s so mysterious to begin with. It’s a black box. So now we don’t have as much mystery and we can sit down and talk openly and honestly about it.”

Another aspect that the new leadership had to tackle to align Ruprecht’s workplace realities with the company’s values was workplace safety. As in the case of benefits, Ruprecht knew they needed to overhaul their safety processes but were at a loss as to what changes to make. Frank asked Launchways if we could help evaluate resumes for a new safety officer, which led to Ruprecht hiring Launchways to conduct a risk assessment and recommend improvements to their safety systems.

“It was extremely helpful because it meant we could have someone come in, spend some days in our facility and evaluate not only the person we have in that role but also what that person is doing and our highest priority needs. And honestly, I think we will be using Launchways again on the safety front because it helped us come up to speed so quickly and the value that we got from that discussion, I don’t think you could get any other way.”

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.”