Partners You Can Count On
HKA Enterprises takes the headache out of finding, managing your workforce
HKA Enterprises understands the frustrations its customers face with human resources (HR) issues. When two large shipbuilding companies were having trouble finding experienced welders at their home site of Mobile, Alabama, the team members at HKA Enterprises didn’t just put themselves in the customers’ shoes; they put boots on the ground. The company rented a testing facility in Mobile and hired an experienced welder who had worked for one of the companies and understood what was required of a new hire. The team analyzed potential candidates, putting them through multiple four- and five-hour tests to ensure they could perform the specific welds required by these shipbuilding clients. And they did all this at no additional cost to their customers.
“We wanted to ensure we were providing our clients with the best craftsman possible. Over four or five years, we tested about 400 contractors annually, maintaining a staff of 100 welders for these customers,” says Danny Burgess, Business Development. “At HKA Enterprises, we listen and respond to our clients, giving them solutions that really help their businesses succeed. We consider ourselves more than providers—we’re partners.”
Headquartered in Greenville, South Carolina, HKA Enterprises is a comprehensive provider of workforce solutions for skilled craft and technical workers in the U.S. and Canada. The company’s core solutions include payroll processing and funding, Employer of Record (EOR) services, staffing and recruitment services, and IT solutions and statements of work (SOW). Clients include companies in construction, manufacturing, aerospace and defense, architecture and engineering, automotive, IT, energy, utilities and shipbuilding. The company is licensed to operate in all 50 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and Canada.
From Local Recruiting to Comprehensive HR Solutions
With 13 offices across the country, HKA Enterprises has 120 internal employees and approximately 5,000 field employees who serve about 400 customers each year. Marvin Anderson, Chairman of the board of directors, remembers when the company was little more than a local recruiter serving the areas of Greenville and Spartanburg, South Carolina. “When I first began looking at purchasing HKA Enterprises, it was very much a local company, providing contingent labor for engineering, design and drafting companies,” he says.
A self-professed “failure at retirement,” Marvin was in search of a project to keep him busy. “I used to own a chemical manufacturing facility, but I was looking for something completely different. I saw a huge market and growth opportunity in staffing,” he says. Marvin acquired HKA Enterprises in 2002 and has taken on five additional partners/shareholders since that time who together own 100% of the company.
Though the industry might have been new to Marvin, running a business was old hat. “You find people with a good work ethic, those with knowledge and expertise. You motivate them and if you’re successful, you build a good company,” he says.
Reg Greiner, Board Director, was one of those people. With a finance background and experience in mergers and acquisitions, Reg, who is a fellow Partner, helped the company acquire complementary businesses that allowed HKA Enterprises to grow in size, geographic coverage and service capability.
Responding in Times of Need
A pivotal moment in the company’s history came after one of the country’s most devastating natural disasters—Hurricane Katrina. “In 2005, we had just signed a contract with one of the largest architecture and engineering firms in the country to provide them with technical personnel,” Danny says. “When Katrina hit, the client set up temporary operations in Mobile. Rather than wait for them to send us staffing requests, we showed up in Mobile too and told them we were there to help. It turned out they had huge manpower needs and no idea how they were going to find these workers—everything from clerical to damage assessors, dump truck drivers and those who could do debris removal and set up temporary housing. Over the course of four months, we recruited over 1,000 workers.” The company’s willingness to go the extra mile during a time of need stuck with the architecture and engineering firm. HKA Enterprises earned a preferred supplier agreement with the firm, which it still holds today.
Finding Qualified Candidates
Jerry Burgess, Business Development, has been recruiting for 17 years and says that finding qualified construction personnel takes tenacity and perseverance. “You don’t find these workers online. They don’t submit resumes, and they’re often working on other jobs during the day. You reach them by phone and text,” he says. “In the first couple of years with HKA Enterprises, I’d dial 50 to 80 phone numbers a day, building up an extensive database of qualified craft workers.”
As technology has evolved so has the company’s recruiting methods. “We have phone processes in place that allow us to reach out to thousands of qualified candidates in just minutes, and we leverage social media to help us maximize our advertising reach,” Danny says.
“We’re adaptable, always looking for ways we can improve our processes and add value,” Marvin adds.
Game-Changing Service Delivery
One of the ways HKA Enterprises adds value is serving as an EOR for its customers. “As an EOR, we essentially become the employer for all taxes and insurance (including workers’ compensation) and take on the liability for all reporting and compliance. We handle the legal side of things for clients. They can continue to focus on and grow their businesses, while HKA Enterprises, as the employer, takes care of all the client’s HR functions,” Reg says. As part of its EOR service, HKA Enterprises provides funded payroll. “We added this offering after recognizing fundamental flaws in the payroll and PEO (professional employer organization) business models,” Reg explains. HKA Enterprises saw that most PEOs were withdrawing client funds on Wednesday but not running payroll until Friday. “We feel our customers should keep their money through Friday. With funded payroll, we pay our customers’ payroll on Friday and then issue an invoice on terms (net seven or net 14 days). This service creates inherent working capital and liquidity for our customers.”
He adds that the service offering drives a culture of partnership between HKA Enterprises and its customers. “Other payroll companies within the PEO industry just serve as a vendor and can actually become very selective in what industries they will onboard and process. In addition, most of the time PEOs don’t share the cost savings from better pricing on insurance and other products with their customers. In both cases, HKA Enterprises has changed the model to be a better partner to its customers. We pride ourselves in having hundreds of industries under our hood, while at the same time we work for lower costs (better pricing on insurance), greater cash flow (by eliminating workers’ compensation insurance prepayments) and increasing the liquidity within a business through funded payroll,” he says.
“Partnership starts by showing a customer what you can provide in service delivery before a contract is signed,” Reg adds. “From recruiting to payroll services, the team at HKA Enterprises shows value in our drive to differentiate ourselves as a partner and not an ordinary vendor. This is the reason we are so confident and comfortable presenting our service offerings. We save contractors $50,000 to millions because of our transparent and effective service delivery. Our hardest hurdle to overcome in a sales presentation is when a prospective customer asks, ‘What’s the catch?’ Our answer is to just let us execute our services. If you still don’t believe us, we will let you out of your contract in 30 days,” Reg says.
Taking Pride in Helping Customers
HKA Enterprises has both loyal customers and loyal employees. “Our people tend to be with the company a long time. I’m not sure what we’ve done to deserve that,” Marvin says modestly. “Our employees take pride in what they do, and they feel like they’re helping clients.”
“Employees see the example set by Reg and Marvin,” Jerry notes. “Leadership cares about us, and it inspires us to take care of our customers.”
“People like Reg and Marvin work harder than everyone else,” Danny adds. “A lot of company owners don’t go out on sales calls, but it’s all hands on deck at HKA Enterprises. It fuels us to work harder.”
Marvin helped to inspire a culture of teamwork from the get-go. “When Marvin purchased a controlling interest in HKA Enterprises, the existing company was housed in traditional offices. The first thing Marvin did was tear down that Sheetrock and install glass walls. No one—not even leadership—can hide behind Sheetrock walls. Plus, everyone has a window view now,” Reg says.
When not working hard for clients, employees build camaraderie through group outings to the local bowling alley or Topgolf. Also, the leadership encourages employees to serve their communities. The company is active with Project HOPE Foundation, which serves the autistic community, as well as Habitat for Humanity. “We get one paid day off to work for Habitat for Humanity or for another nonprofit of our choice,” Danny says.
“We want employees to find worthwhile organizations in need of support and to actively give back. It builds camaraderie, helps the community and makes us better people,” Marvin says.