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How a KC professional employer organization grew 6,560%

By: James Dornbrook, August 30, 2017

Kansas City-based Lever1 recently was recognized as one of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States, experiencing a three-year sales growth rate of 6,560 percent.

Lever1 is a professional employer organization (PEO) that offers outsourcing services for human resources, payroll, employee benefits and workers’ compensation. A PEO pools all its clients together to leverage better rates and buying power for traditional benefits such as health, dental and vision, 401(k), unemployment and workers’ comp.

Lever1 is led by Erica Brunea member of the Kansas City Business Journal’s 2016 class of Women Who Mean Business. Founded in 2012, Lever1 last year formed a strategic partnership with Overland Park-based Truss LLC — the second largest insurance brokerage based in the Kansas City area — to go to market with a mutual product for the PEO, which helped their pool grow faster.

“Our first couple of years, our pool wasn’t that big,” Brune said. “So while our buying power was better, it wasn’t knocking people’s socks off. It was a good option, but they really had to have a need for outsourced services as well. But this year our pool has grown to the point that the rates are so good we’re starting to get in front of bigger businesses. They typically already have an HR person or two on staff but can still really benefit from the bundled insurance packages. It often more than pays for itself. That’s been creating a snowball effect leading to our huge growth.”

To handle all the new volume and offer more service options to clients, Lever1 is busy developing additional technology. The company plans to roll out a mobile version of its platform this month, allowing employees to clock in and out from their mobile devices, which can geo-target their location. Later this quarter, Lever1 also plans to launch an online enrollment feature for its benefits packages.

“We really pride ourselves on being a service company,” Brune said. “We don’t want to just sell insurance products. We know that as we grow, we’ll be attractive to more sophisticated businesses who want more of those types of features.”Although the bigger businesses are driving the massive growth at Lever1, the company isn’t forgetting about the smaller entrepreneurial ventures that have been its bread and butter. Offering outsourcing services, Lever1 has helped a lot of startups hire their first employees. Being able to offer affordable benefits helps those small companies recruit great people, which leads those clients to grow faster, which in turn leads to growth at Lever1.

“We love both types of clients, big and small,” Brune said.