Companies are always looking for an edge to make it in today’s unsteady economic climate. A recent merger between Maui-based KilaKila Employer Services and Oahu’s Altres aims to assist Maui businesses with tools they need to get ahead. Kilakila, founded in 1997 by Carole Kooy, provides payroll, insurance, health insurance coverage and Human Resources support. Altres was started in 1969, and expanded to California, Arizona and Utah in 1988. By 2000 it was named the top professional employer organization in America by ProEmp Journal.
“My father, Bill Guss, founded the company in 1969 as a staffing services company in Hawaii,” said Barron Guss, Altres’ president and CEO. “I joined him in 1980 with just a handful of employees and was involved in everything from working on temporary assignments for clients to managing the operations for the company. In 1981, we created the first professional employer organization (PEO) in the state to provide outsourced human resources administration services such as payroll, employee benefits administration, human resources, and compliance to local businesses. Since then, we’ve grown to 145 employees with multiple offices on Oahu, the Big Island, and now Maui.”
With the merger, Maui clients of Kilakila will gain access to the HR Symphony cloud-based payroll and HR Information system that Altres launched in 2011.
“Employers need more technology to run their business efficiently and are seeking out these tools,” said Kooy, Vice President of Kilakila. “For example, we have quite a few clients in the solar industry where demand has exploded. They need technology to help them run their business throughout the island and the state. They’re expanding their workforce so they’re looking for online access to track employees, hours, and projects to stay on top of things.”
In 2009, Altres lunched simplicityHR, which offered businesses different tiers of HR administration services, which had not been seen before in the industry.
“Employers are recognizing that we are not going to go back to the way things were,” said Guss. “This is where we start rebuilding. I’m seeing the economy starting to pick up with increased activity and new opportunities. New businesses are cropping up and hiring employees. This renewed activity shows a growing interest in our staffing and HR services from entrepreneurs who recognize that times are different, and they need to do business differently.”
Last year Kooy visited Altres in Honolulu to see a demonstration of HR Symphony, and that was the impetus to the merger.
“Barron and I have been friends for many years,” said Kooy. “Although we’ve owned companies in the same business, we never acted as competitors. I’m thrilled that our companies are now coming together to better support our clients.”