Interview: Casey Moore, President, Western Environmental Technologies
Number of Employees: 20 to 70
Internal Full-Time HR: No
Xenium Service: PEO
WET Labs is a developer and manufacturer of underwater instrumentation to detect vital biological, chemical and geological parameters and processes of the earth’s oceans, lakes and streams. They began their “garage shop” operation in 1992 under Casey Moore, the President and Founder of WET Labs, and grew from two employees in the first year to seven in the second year of operations.
Several years later, WET Labs acquired another firm and assimilated about half of their remaining workforce, expanded their facility, and separated engineering from production to create structure in the business.
In early 2000, when the growth of the company continued to add headcount, Casey realized that getting a management structure in place and addressing the issues that go along with becoming an employer were high priorities.
By 2001, WET Labs carried approximately 20 employees and began seeking a fully integrated HR and payroll solution to handle the compliance side of running a business. Most notably, they sought to implement an employee HR infrastructure, which included payroll and tax administration, compliance and benefit programs.
WET Labs understood that payroll taxes and workers’ compensation were a challenge to manage and looked for a service that would provide a solution.
Casey knew they needed to address the workers’ compensation issues first. Their costs were increasing and they began to consider the broader options of outsourcing the workers’ compensation program.
WET Labs chose Xenium’s PEO program, which included payroll, workers’ compensation, HR management and preventative legal.
“When you are smaller, especially around 30 or 40 employees, you can’t really afford to hire a qualified full-time HR person. When you get into the black swan events – the random occurrences that lead to uncertainty - of employer liability, it’s unclear where potential lawsuits and responsibility exist, so that’s where having an outsourced HR company comes in really handy.”
From the time WET Labs hired Xenium as their partner for employer services, it was really about finding a solution for payroll and workers’ compensation. As time went on, they really leaned on Xenium for human resource services, training and legal support.
From the very start of the relationship, WET Labs used Xenium strictly as a payroll and workers’ compensation and safety service; however, once the executive team realized that Xenium could be the go-to for proactively implementing HR systems and strategies around their business, that’s when the relationship began maximizing its full potential.
Once Wet Labs grew to over 50 employees, it led to adding additional compliance structures, such as an HR Compliance Assessment, Employee Handbook (with annual updates), Safety Committee/Safety Programs, Supervisory Training, Job Descriptions, FMLA/OFLA Tracking, Bonus Plan Design, Employee Relations/Investigations, and regular attendance at Xenium’s training workshops.
“Currently, we have an infrastructure that’s beyond our size, and I think it’s in large part to Xenium that we established our core professionalism by virtue of the relationship. I think it made a big difference, and it still does. It helped us define our culture.”
Wet Labs was successfully acquired by a large company in 2010 and attributed a large part of their success to having a well-established HR infrastructure in place. By having these systems in place, it made the acquisition of Wet Labs more appealing for the prospective buyer.