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Rochester Top 100: Economic woes offered opportunities to grow

Rochester Business Journal
November 1, 2013

The growth rate of HR Works Inc. increased when the economy went south.
The human resources services firm in Perinton has been growing since its founding 22 years ago, but President Candace Walters said growth has come particularly quickly since the start of the last recession as businesses took a harder look at ways to reduce costs.
HR Works has helped those businesses by streamlining human resources functions and offering support in critical areas such as compliance and staffing, Walters said.
"We're offering services that are very needed in the market and save them time and money," she said.
HR Works was the second business created by Walters, part of an evolution toward the firm it would become today. More than 20 years ago she saw the need to extend human resources expertise to small and midsize companies, especially in the burgeoning area of employee handbooks.
"I started this business when my children were small, and I was doing it as a way to stay current in my field while also starting a family," Walters said. "What happened was we developed a software package that could generate employee handbooks. We started running advertisements about handbooks, getting out there before there was anything like that."
From there Walters went to work for a national payroll company, but after four years she left to start HR Works.
"I started HR Works 22 years ago and have never deviated since," she said. "The whole business is built on offering a comprehensive suite of HR services that give our clients the expertise they need to manage their workforce."
HR Works offers clients work on individual projects, such as leadership and supervisor training, and human resources audits. On-site support includes human resources professional staffing and payroll and technical support, including virtual payroll and benefits administration.
Compliance services are also a key part of HR Works, Walters said. The company offers a helpline for compliance matters and helps clients create employee handbooks to meet state and federal regulations.
HR Works has special expertise in affirmative action, Walters added, with more than 20 years of experience in creating affirmative action plans.
The company has built a national client base, stretching from Hawaii to Alaska and Maine to Florida, Walters noted. HR Works has become one of the largest independently owned human resources consulting firms in the United States.
"In the last five or six years we've had double-digit growth every year," she said. "A lot of that has to do with what's gone on in the economy, and we've introduced technology solutions on a national basis to clients that offer them a tremendous amount of efficiency."
The company has succeeded in large part because of its strong commitment to its employees, said Shannon Craig, vice president of affirmative action services.
"HR Works' key success drivers include our deliberate focus on employee satisfaction, because it's our employees who keep our clients satisfied, and the company's entrepreneurial culture that keeps us nimble and able to rapidly respond to changes in the marketplace, especially government-driven change," Craig said.
As HR Works has developed its services for clients, the company has sought out partnerships with national companies that provide new marketing opportunities, Walters said. This has fostered growth in many markets and helped the company increase its profit by 25 percent last year. The firm has 58 employees, including 49 in the Rochester area.
Walters said she sees more room for growth, especially as the company increases its technological solutions.
"The introduction of all the Web-based technology in the HR and human capital space has allowed us to build additional offerings to clients," she said. "We are pretty immersed in HR technology, in helping our clients implement it and continue to utilize it and get the most out of it."
These advances have allowed clients to reduce the time and money required by formerly tedious human resources processes, Walters said.
"Human resources is very labor-intensive and takes up a lot of paper, so if employers can automate and make it so they don't have their employees doing paper enrollments, they can feed those functions into online functions and save a lot of time," she said.

The Rochester Top 100 program is presented by the Rochester Business Alliance Inc. and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. This year's Rochester Top 100 event will be held Nov. 6. For more information, go to

HR Works Inc.
Human resources services firm
Founded: 1991
2013 ranking: 89
Top executive: Candace Walters, president
Employees: 58 total, 49 in Rochester area
Location: Perinton

11/1/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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