Fred and Judy Lau, and their three children Brendon, Tyler and Mari own and manage a “one stop shop” family of companies in the agriculture industries. Their businesses grow plants, provide critical landscaping services to Hawaii’s private and public sectors, as well as fresh wholesale produce to restaurants. Recently, they expanded into retail operations as well with the opening of Mari’s Urban Garden in Kakaako.
Today the family collectively employs over 100 employees across four business entities: Fred Lau Hawaiian Landscape Maintenance Company, Mari’s Gardens, Makakilo Nursery and Brendon Lau Agricultural.
“We want to manage our company. We want to go out there and win bids. We want to make sure that our company is retaining those bids. Those things take a lot of work. And, if we were to be concentrated on HR, we wouldn’t be able to concentrate on those really important things. So the time that ProService saves us is very valuable.”
– Tyler Lau, Operations Manager
For the Lau family companies, maintaining profitable margins on existing projects, plus winning and retaining new contracts is imperative for business growth. However, the company’s workers’ compensation and healthcare costs were skyrocketing. They needed competitive and stable insurance rates to better manage and forecast their labor costs reliably. As they grew, they also needed help to properly care for their employees, with competitive benefits, a safe working environment, and a go-to resource when questions arose.
In 2003, the Lau family companies chose ProService Hawaii as their full-service HR and business partner. Having one resource and partner for payroll, healthcare, workers’ comp, safety, HR and compliance saved the team precious time, thousands of dollars on better insurance rates, and improved administrative efficiencies.
Like many businesses, the Lau family companies struggled to control workers’ compensation and healthcare costs. One of the biggest wins for the Lau family was the insurance savings ProService could offer. Instead of navigating the insurance market directly, they took advantage of ProService’s uniquely competitive healthcare and workers’ compensation offering to access the below-market rates they deserved.
As a result, the landscaping business was able to reduce its workers’ comp costs from day one. Six years later, the company reduced its costs further by 25% and their deductible by 90%, due to the strong safety programs ProService helped them establish to de-risk their business even more. In return, over the years, the Lau family companies have saved over $300,000 on workers’ compensation alone thanks to ProService.
“Our workers’ comp and health insurance costs were going up and up. It was ridiculous. Once we started working with ProService, our rates stabilized and stopped rising at the same time other companies were telling me that their insurance rates were over the top. I tell them to go see ProService now.”
– Fred Lau, Owner
Before working with ProService, getting a clear financial snapshot of a project at a given point in time was a very manual process. Wth ProService as their payroll provider, the Lau family companies not only saved valuable time, they gained access to a variety of reports to slice, dice and analyze their labor data and costs in real-time.
“ProService does job tracking for me. I’m able to organize my employees into who did what, and track time on specific tasks or jobs. I just log into my portal and it’s there! This gives me the critical ability to react in real time if we’re spending too much labor, or if something is not right. If ProService didn’t do this for me, I wouldn’t find out until the job was over. That’s too late!”
– Brendon Lau, Owner, Brendon Lau Agricultural
Not only this, another big win for the Lau family companies was their ability to more accurately forecast their labor costs when going after new contracts.
“ProService helps us forecast our workers’ comp and medical insurances for next year. I take those numbers and build them into my next year’s costs and make sure that my bids maintain the correct margin. This allows me to confidently bid contracts two or three years down the road that don’t exist today.” – Tyler Lau, Operations Manager
The Lau family companies have a strong safety record because they work hard at it and because they have the right safety partner. Although employees need to engage in activities like operating farming equipment or heavy machinery, the family company can leverage ProService’s Safety Consultants to provide ongoing safety training and OSHA certifications to employees, without an additional cost to the Lau family business. Working with ProService, the company no longer needs to worry about setting aside an additional budget to offer expensive training.
“These certifications can cost up to $300 per employee per machine. ProService trains each employee on our equipment and issues the certification. We are OSHA compliant and receive thousands of dollars worth of free training.” – Brendon Lau, Production Manager
If there is ever a workplace issue, the Lau family companies now have someone to call for immediate advice and assistance.
“In the case of a workplace accident, ProService has systems in place that we can leverage. They’ll tell us exactly what information we need and how to manage things efficiently so our employee can get back to health and work faster.”
– Tyler Lau, Operations Manager
The Lau family’s companies have a great family culture. But employee disputes are inevitable. When these situations arise, the business can lean on ProService’s HR Consultants to step in, assess the situation, and provide practical counsel, at no additional cost.
“We recently had a situation where an employee was acting inappropriately. I called ProService asking ‘what do we do? Our HR Consultant gave us all our options with pro’s and con’s. She worked beside me the whole way to make sure we reached a good resolution for our employees, everything was done by the law, and that the best outcome was achieved for my business. ProService turned a very stressful situation into something that I could manage. And it was all included within my ProService fees.”
– Brendon Lau, Production Manager