By: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read November 2019 — Achieving longevity in any marketplace is difficult. That level of difficulty increases significantly when an area is growing and competition is introduced on a frequent basis. The solution to continuing to remain a leader is the flexibility to evolve with a customer’s needs, as well as having the ability to quickly switch gears in terms of focus for the business. Matt Crum, the executive vice president for Clearwater-based FrankCrum, understands these concepts, an understanding that has contributed to 38 years of success for his family’s business.
To what do you attribute the company’s longevity in this market?
Change is inevitable in any business and I believe part of the reason we have been successful over the years is our acceptance and embrace of change. The company started as a staffing firm in 1981, opened what is the professional employer organization (PEO) a few years later, and we now have an insurance carrier, insurance agency and a managing general agency all under the FrankCrum flag. We understand that to remain relevant, we must continue to evolve with our customer’s needs. Something that has remained the same since we’ve been in business is our value system. Our three brand pillars are integrity, prosperity and affinity and those ideals are extended to all of the stakeholders in our business.
What benefits have been afforded to FrankCrum remaining a privately held business all these years?
Tampa Bay, and specifically Clearwater, is more of a regional business hub as compared to some of the other, large markets in the Southeast. While there is a national company presence in the region, there are not a lot of big companies headquartered here. Being a privately held business allows us the autonomy to make decisions on a different time horizon than publicly traded or private equity-owned businesses. We can make an evaluation without having to consider what our shareholders are going to say or how the quarterly results are going to be affected. It lends itself to longer term thinking, clearly focusing on what is important and executing.
How has the location of Clearwater been beneficial to the success of FrankCrum?
Being in the Clearwater/Tampa Bay region has been a huge benefit to our business. It is a fantastic market as the cost of living is pretty low, there is easy access to the No. 1 beach in the country, there are major market sports teams and the region really has everything that any other major market in the country has. The friendly tax environment for individuals and companies makes it easier to compete on a national level, especially when we are competing against the companies based in more expensive, higher tax environments. This location also helps in recruiting people who live in those environments. The idea of paying less in taxes and living in a great area is attractive to them.
What lessons did you learn from the last financial crisis and how do they apply now?
As a professional employer organization (PEO), we offer payroll processing, HR services and consulting, tax and benefits administration, and workers’ compensation and risk management to our customers. Prior to the financial crisis, we were more specialized, focusing on specific industry segments. This was good while it lasted but hit us pretty hard during the recession. It forced us to look closely at our processes and our service offering. We realized we needed to invest pretty heavily in technology and personnel to expand our potential customer base and prepare for growth as the economy turned around. It turned out to be a successful strategy because we’ve experienced very solid growth over the last eight to nine years. Our business benefits from the strength in the labor market and rising wages. As competition increases for talent, businesses need to improve their benefit offering so they often turn to a PEO. As they grow, especially into other states, we help them stay in compliance with state and local laws.
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