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 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
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 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
“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,
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 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
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
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.”
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
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
“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
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
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
Looking to the
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.
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