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Oct 05, 2022 Erin Crowley

Branch Spotlight: Somerset, MA

Branch Spotlight: Somerset, MA

A tiny but mighty team of ConnectPay Connected Service Representatives is serving clients in southeastern Massachusetts. The Somerset branch, located just off of Route Six, officially became part of the ConnectPay family on January 1, 2022. 

But the story really begins back in the 1980s with Arthur and Eleanor Gagnon. With the help of a trusted business partner and some family members, Arthur and Eleanor owned and operated employment agencies in New Bedford, MA and Fall River, MA.

As business grew, Arthur quickly discovered that people needed help processing payroll. So he developed a solution for payroll that was cheaper than signing with ADP: his own software. 

Arthur–realizing he’d created the product he’d needed–passed one employment agency off to his business partner, and the other to his daughter Julie–and started focusing on payroll services instead. 

PAYROLL EXPRESS IS BORN

Payroll Express opened its doors in Somerset in 1983, promising “personalized service that could not be compared to the large cookie cutter payroll services.” And for 39 years–that’s what the small payroll company provided for the communities of southeastern MA.

Reliable payroll, attention to detail, and friendly customer service were three star qualities of the family-owned payroll provider. Perhaps the most memorable service of all: free local delivery by Arthur himself–typically in costume!

Arthur, chauffeured by long-time family friend Sandy in the infamous Payroll Express car– never missed an opportunity to hand-deliver payroll–while disguised as Uncle Sam or Santa. Or Batman; The Easter Bunny; a Turkey–to name a few. 

BUSINESS IS PERSONAL 

Arthur and Eleanor’s daughter Julie ran the New Bedford agency for 10 years and then returned to Payroll Express when her parents needed another set of hands. “My Mom and Dad,” she pauses then laughs, “I don’t know how they did it. All that time together…but they would have wonderful days.”

As one could imagine, clients easily made friends with the charming family that delivered payroll in a custom-wrapped Monte Carlo. “Clients would sit down and eat lunch with us,” Julie shares, “Mom would host dinners and cook ham with mashed potatoes and corn. They’ve come to baby showers…my father’s 70th or 75th birthday party. The connection to our clients is and always has been strong.” 

WHEN YOU KNOW, YOU KNOW 

In 2021, after 39 years in business together, Arthur and Eleanor explored options to sell the company. Around September the Somerset team had dinner with an old friend of Arthur’s, Paul Altavena. Paul is a co-founder and the President of ConnectPay: he also leads the corporation's Mergers and Acquisitions team. 

Paul outlined his vision for a merger between Payroll Express and his small-business-focused payroll provider, ConnectPay. “Paul and Dad [Arthur] always clicked because the biggest thing in the world to both of them was that close-knit relationship with a client. The commitment to service, the details, the friendship,” Julie smiles pridefully, “the values lined up perfectly.” By October, the selling agreement was signed.

MAKING A SMOOTH INTEGRATION

A merger with ConnectPay on the horizon outlined significant changes for Payroll Express–most notably–the introduction of automated payroll and Customer Relationship Management technologies. “I loved Arthur’s payroll program,” Vickie starts, “I knew it well and I could create things. But it wasn’t going to work year after year. So it was a relief knowing that ConnectPay’s technology was going to work for us for decades to come.” 

And converting hundreds of clients onto the ConnectPay platform wasn’t a small project. “I tried to warn them,” Vickie laughs, “but Melissa, the Operations Manager, and her team were so kind and patient at every step. It really helped and they were so welcoming.” The conversion process ramped up around December and Arthur’s clients started on the ConnectPay platform for the new year. 

MORE HELPING HANDS

Vickie loves telling the story of putting ConnectPay COO, Drew, to work onboarding clients when he first visited the Somerset branch. “He’s just that person,” Vickie shares, “he’s always the one asking how he can help.”

Vickie and Julie are grateful to have so many helpful and kind colleagues like Drew through the merger. “Being able to get on Microsoft Teams and connect to more people, that’s a big change for all of us,” Vickie details, ”it’s a huge advantage to be able to find somebody who can help you with your problem and walk you through it if you need help.” 

And the clients are happy. “Our clients are able to get online for the first time and that’s huge,” Vickie shares, “they feel good having the ability to go online and get reports for themselves."

A merger with ConnectPay provided Vickie's team with new tools to better support clients. "Our clients that need Worker's Comp plans are saving money through ConnectPay's partnership with the Retailers Association of Massachusetts and the pay-as-you-go insurance plans that are perfectly tailored to their businesses." 

ONWARD AND UPWARD

For Julie and Vickie, joining a new company offered them room to grow. “Paul promised us all an opportunity,” Julie shares, “and what we did with that opportunity was our choice.” For starters, the mother-daughter duo only work in the same office two days a week now. That’s because three days of the week Julie sits in the Foxboro Corporate office as a Senior Business Development Representative. 

Vickie took the role of Somerset Branch Manager with stride–despite the hectic nature of leading clients through transitions in payroll. “I’m so proud of her,” Julie smiles, “she has really stepped up to the plate. She is doing an amazing job keeping it all together.” And Vickie would tell you, it takes a village. Thank you to Arthur and Eleanor Gagnon for sharing your village with ConnectPay!

Looking to join the ConnectPay family in Somerset? We’re hiring Connected Service Representatives. Visit our careers page to apply!

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Published by Erin Crowley October 5, 2022