Even as a boy, Michael’s easygoing charm could not hide his innate drive. That enterprising nature combined with a staunch work ethic is what family friend, Paul Altavena was drawn to when they partnered to build Safesite Records Management. After its sale to Iron Mountain, they brought their desire to bring a well-honed, proactive service model into their next co-venture, Advantage Payroll Boston, which was eventually acquired by Paychex.
Fiercely committed to guiding start-ups and small to mid-sized business owners towards the best practices to grow their company, Michael and Paul started ConnectPay with a proprietary technology platform built by Agile Payroll Systems.
Michael’s character is the bedrock of ConnectPay. He lives the vision of providing clients operational efficiency, innovative technology and best-of-breed service in payroll and he breathes the strategy of connecting with partners, brokers and advisors to give clients more choice in integration.
Above all, Michael treasures relationships. A devoted father of two girls, husband, son and friend, he also happens to play a mean harmonica and likes to start the day early with a ride on his Cervelo bike.
Paul grew up in a hardworking, blue-collar family that fueled his entrepreneurial spirit at an early age. Lawn mowing, snow shoveling, and driveway sealing was all about the end goal of buying a 1960 MGA Roadster, which led to a 3 year frame off restoration that required funds. So Paul found a job at a local architect running the blueprints, then drafting, before eventually assisting on small design projects all while still in High School.
Paul graduated from Syracuse University with the realization that he was meant to be a leader. His love of cars led him to work for a well-run family business in the automotive aftermarket. His goal? To learn every aspect of operating a business. He learned to hate payroll. That frustration dissipated when he was persuaded by the founder of Paychex to outsource payroll. In 1979, he joined Paychex to develop the Boston market and ended up with its most profitable office before participating in its successful 1983 public offering. After meeting Michael Young, they collaborated to build Safesite Records Management Services from the ground up before its sale to Iron Mountain in 1997.
Paul’s next chapter found him consulting in the payroll services and human resources software industries for a few Fortune 100 companies by developing systems for employee administration. He soon returned to his entrepreneurial roots with a startup co-venture with Michael that became Advantage Payroll Services, which Paychex purchased ten years later. Looking to build a company they both value with technology and service at its heart, he teamed with Michael Young once again and co-founded ConnectPay.
Now recognized as a knowledgeable leader in the payroll industry and the future of human resource management for small businesses, Paul is back where he started, only now, he loves payroll. Married with five children, he occasionally finds time to pursue his interests of golf, hunting, fishing, sporting clays, design and cooking.
Drew Schildwachter* is the Chief Operating Officer. Once a client, Drew joined the team in 2014 because he enjoys growing companies, and what better way to grow ConnectPay while helping other small businesses achieve their potential.
Drew’s career in sales and operations began at Endless Video SuperStores, which he helped grow to the largest Blockbuster Video franchisee in New England. Next, at Corners, the custom framing superstore, he restored profitability after the parent company filed for bankruptcy. Before ConnectPay, Drew purchased the Instant Sign Center in Norwood, growing the company four-fold.
Drew is that guy who doesn’t accept his fate, he shapes it. When not creating raving fans of ConnectPay, Drew can be found planning the next home improvement project or family trip.
Maria Jalaf has been in the payroll industry for over 10 years- first delighting clients at True Payroll Integration and now heading up Payroll Operations in the ConnectPay southern Connecticut branch office. Always focused on smooth running operations, she learned payroll while serving as an Office manager in the Auto industry. Maria lives by the motto “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice” so it’s no surprise she easily steps into a client’s shoes to ensure she provides exceptional, personal service.
When not playing word games for sport, she looks forward to family vacations at the Jersey Shore. A Brooklyn, New York native, when Maria turned eighteen, she moved to Connecticut and soon married her lifelong best friend Fady. Together, they’ve raised a son and daughter and Gizmo, a Japanese Chin.
In May of 2008, Gretchen started wearing many hats… operations management, human resources, even tax administration, but her most gratifying is her client service cap where she truly enjoys client meetings and finding payroll solutions. It’s as rewarding to her as being an integral part of a company that is growing, and evolving the payroll industry.
A graduate of Central Michigan University, she worked with co-founders Michael and Paul in records management at Safesite before diving head first into the world of payroll.
Gretchen’s favorite vacation destination is anywhere warm and sunny, preferably with a pool, a fruity cocktail and her favorite people: four children and a devoted husband.
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but that’s never been the case with Melissa. For 16 years in payroll, she’s been on top of every new industry development from ACA compliance to insurance integrations. After a stint at CareCentrix, she burst into payroll first at Advantage then at ConnectPay, alongside company founder, who made his first call to Melissa to lead the customer service operations upon launching ConnectPay.
Melissa received her Bachelor’s degree from Assumption College and became a Certified Payroll Professional in 2006. When she’s not turning clients into raving fans, she can be found running with earphones playing 90’s R&B and Christian rock. Her proud accomplishments include running 2 half marathons, oh and the raising of a son into a nice, young man.
Celeste brought her talents to ConnectPay in July 2017 and immediately began using her love for people in customer service. She began working full-time right out of High School for SNET while attending Post University where she graduated with a Business Management degree. Celeste lives her life by the Golden Rule: to treat people they way she wants to be treated. And her clients appreciate her kindness.
She married her best friend Jack and they started their family in Trumbull. Celeste feels very fortunate to have been a stay-at-home Mom while raising two boys who have grown into wonderful young men. Celeste loves spending time with her family and sunbathing in Sanibel Island. She also likes to read, knit and exercise.
The Pacific Northwest is a playground for explorers, dreamers and Shawnee Ray. Much in the same way the diverse geography creates countless opportunities for adventure, so too will Shawnee and ConnectPay lead the charge in driving new business opportunities for a thriving marketplace filled with mountains and momentum.
Shawnee’s family will tell you her early days started in just as beautiful a place, the great state of Utah. She learned to waterski, hike and the sport of gymnastics and attended Brigham Young University as a scholarship gymnast.
As a West Coast sales and marketing veteran, the ConnectPay family considers itself fortunate to have Shawnee join the team as part of the Cascade Payroll Services acquisition. Prior to payroll, Shawnee had a nice long run with PLS Consulting, a human capital management consulting company aligning talent with business strategy. She also brings vast experience in client services, account management, operations, sales and marketing with companies that include U.S. Bank, Nike, National Envelope and MedSafe Management, Inc.
Shawnee’s earliest experience in Oregon includes directing the Women’s Gymnastics Program at the Multnomah Athletic Club and raising her daughter. When she’s not working to partner with a business owner, you can find Shawnee traveling with her husband, playing in the great outdoors or volunteering at one of her favorite organizations, Indigo Rescue- dedicated to life-saving rescue and intervention for animals.
Pamela studied Accounting and Business Management while working as an Office Manager. After going back to OCC for Accounting, she worked as an accountant for Oakland Livingston Humane Service Agency. She found her niche in payroll and Pamela never looked back working in Payroll and Purchasing for Fuyao Automotive and as the Payroll and Benefits Administrator at the Challenge Manufacturing Co. before ConnectPay noticed her talents.
A trivia buff, (just don’t compete against her if the category is the TV show West Wing) Pamela is about constantly learning new things. Always the willing volunteer, Pamela is also about social action and humanitarian relief, helping the likes of Habitat for Humanity International, Motor City Pride Committee, Salvation Army, Gleaners Community Food Bank and Walk for Warmth.
Mike Covault is a fan. A fan of small business owners, with a knack for helping business owners slam dunk their success with payroll and compliance. Mike’s also a fan of golf, The Tigers, The Pistons and Michigan football and basketball. His career started In advertising Sales for AT&T before entering the world of payroll working for Paychex for 6 years. When not rooting for one of his teams, Mike spends time with his children and is the biggest fan of his adorable granddaughter.
A graduate of Bryant University with a B.A. in Business, Jeff led the Inside Sales force at ConnectPay before becoming a Sales Executive in the field. At his last startup, GreenLine Innovations, he was both a Sales Representative and Recruiting Manager after recruiting in the Accounting and Finance space for AP Staffing in Boston.
Before Jeff hit the streets selling payroll, he was hitting it out of the park, playing Division 1 varsity baseball at Bryant, where his leadership skills earned him a 2 year captain for the Bulldogs before being drafted by the Chicago Cubs. He finished his baseball career as coach at Northeastern University. Today, Jeff still volunteers at youth baseball clinics, living and teaching his Rule #1: Don’t Panic.
Sheldon formed one of the first PEO (Professional Employer Organization) in Massachusetts. Considered a pioneer in this industry, he helped draft legislation and set the ground rules for the way PEO’s operate today. As a Founder and President of the state chapter of the National Trade Organization, he was even involved in re-naming of the industry from Employee Leasing to PEO. After expanding to over $100 million in sales, Sheldon sold his company in the late 1990’s.
Not one to sit still, Sheldon founded Administrative Business Resources (ABR) to provide Payroll, HR & Benefits to small to mid-sized companies before joining forces with ConnectPay to bring even greater value to the business owner.
After earning a B.S. in Business Administration from
It was love at first payroll at Andrea’s first real job, and she hasn’t stopped “payrolling” ever since. Andrea received an Associate degree in Business Administration in Accounting, with minors in HR and Legal Studies, from Middlesex Community College. She continued her learning with Microsoft’s After the Basics Certification from Assabet Valley Regional and a Business Clerical Certification from Mount Wachusett Community College all while becoming proficient in software like UltiPro, Evolution and QuickBooks.
As a mother of a child with autism, Andrea’s advocacy for Autism Awareness is close to her heart. When not dreaming of places to travel in Europe and Hawaii, Andrea is an avid reader of historical fiction, thrillers, and mysteries. She lives with her husband, two children and Peanut, the family dachshund.
After graduating from Fitchburg State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, Leah got her taste for numbers working at the accounting firm Robert C. Alario, CPA. When not immersed in payroll processing, Leah dabbles in quilting, but relishes her weekly Dungeons & Dragons game with close friends.
A newlywed who has called Massachusetts “home” her entire life, Leah and her husband just bought their first house where they blissfully live with their rescue pitbull/lab mix.
Prior to working at ConnectPay, Paula lived in Florida working as an Assistant to the Head of the Director at Score At The Top, where she assisted with HR and Accounting responsibilities. In order to pursue an Accounting degree and find a job in a related field, Paula moved back up North and landed at ConnectPay.
A girl with a southern heart, without the will to handle hot weather, Paula loves living in New England hiking with her dogs or visiting the plethora of animals at a farm. On Paula’s bucket list: visiting Iceland, starting a motivation vlog, and writing a juicing book.
Matt knows that doing the next right thing helps everything fall into place. And that’s not just on the basketball court, where he loves to play a pickup game. Every day, he’s dedicated to doing the right thing for business owners through education about the most efficient payroll solutions available to them. Matt serves as the Program Manager for our Workers’ Comp integration with the Retail Association of Massachusetts. He also manages the Inside Sales development team.
After attending Canterbury Prep School, he received his Bachelor’s degree at Suffolk University-Sawyer School of Management. He spent nine years as a Commercial Lines Producer at Association Benefits Insurance Agency, Inc. before joining ConnectPay.
A die-hard fan of the Celtics and Patriots, Matt’s also a fan of giving back as a volunteer at Haven from Hunger in Peabody and CAB Health & Recovery Services in Danvers.
After 14 years of customer service experience in the banking and finance divisions of JPMorgan Chase & Co., Melissa now takes great pride in her work at ConnectPay and strives to make the customer experience positive in every way.
A graduate of Wayne State University, she loves yoga, camping and problem solving. At first glance, a connection isn’t obvious, but what you learn is Melissa’s focus and attention to detail serves her well in all the activities she pursues. A self-admitted slave to her cell phone calendar, she’s also quite efficient as a parent volunteer organizing school activities and fundraisers.
Melissa lives by the “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” rule… no wonder she’s won the award for Best Mom Ever, voted unanimously by her three sons.
When Susan entered the payroll field in 1992, she quickly learned that payroll and tax requirements were less stressful for clients when given more personal service, yet was the missing link of her competitors. Naturally, she started her own company on that premise in 1999 and grew Premiere Payroll threefold. Seeing a like-mindedness with a service first mentality, she brought her book of business to ConnectPay in 2015.
With a belief in giving back to her community, Susan decided to volunteer for the City of Troy Fire Department. It was a decision that changed her life because a fellow fire-fighter became her husband. Two children later, she’s no longer crawling around in burning buildings and prefers quilting and quiet time on her northern Michigan property.
Since the dawn of time, actually since 1998, Rick has been a true team player, generous with his knowledge and steadfast in playing by the rules. With a twinkle in his eye that gives away his dry humor, Rick never sends anyone away when asked for help.
After operating and selling his own Advantage payroll franchise, Rick became the go-to man at Michael Young’s Advantage franchise before they both reunited at ConnectPay. Now Rick’s considered the epitome of where service meets technology as the lead for two core services: Time and Attendance; and compliant Section 125 Premium Only Plan (POP) pre-tax document packages. He also serves as in-house IT and house security for the MA security law CMR 17.
Rick’s personal interests revolve around his church and large family that includes five daughters and eight grandchildren, as well as four sisters and a brother.
Sherri grew up in East Detroit before heading to Ferris State University to earn a bachelor’s degree in Marketing. Fond of thinking if it wasn’t for the last minute, she wouldn’t get anything done, the irony is Sherri is constantly ‘getting it done’… and then some.
With a houseful of children and a fierce commitment to family, when she finds time for downtime, it runs the gamut between fishing, quilting, shooting or reading. When not at “Home Sweet Home,” Sherri loves traveling to destinations as relaxing as Grand Cayman or as exciting as Florence, Italy.
Before entering the exciting world of payroll, Steve spent seven years working at convenience-store retailer Thorntons, as General Manager for four of those years. This is where he learned the significance of raising loyalty though leadership in customer service.
When not bringing his highly regarded customer service to payroll clients, Steve enjoys all things nerd including zombie, fiction, fantasy, and gaming. Though he’s monogamous to one particular game fighting the forces of evil with his guild mates! Originally from C-Bus, Ohio, Steve moved to Massachusetts in 2011, got married to his long-time partner and eventually settled in Worcester with three amazing dogs, one awesome cat, and some fairly boring fish.
Not everyone says they love their job, but Kathy can. At Courier Corporation, she worked her way up from Administrative to Scheduling for the entire manufacturing plant before landing in the Finance department, where she made it her mission to perfect her customer service skills. Inspired by taking Continuing Ed accounting courses, Kathy’s working towards becoming a certified bookkeeper.
Kathy grew up in a historic New England town and plans to grow old just doors down from her childhood home. She especially loves opening that door and seeing her grandson.
When not outdoors camping, at the beach, or poolside with her husband, she’s in her vegetable garden growing green beans and zucchini, with her outside cat, Clarence. Yes, she’s an outdoorswoman and yes, her cat’s name was spurred by “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
As dependable and he is ethical, Glenn enjoys challenging assignments. Little did we know he can reconcile faster than a speeding bullet and is able to handle a large spreadsheet in a single bound.
After a quick turn in a Receiving role, processing returns and maintaining warehouse inventory, Glenn went to work as an Accountant for Universal Truckload Services (LINC) for seven years before bringing his mad Excel skills to ConnectPay. His Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Master of Accountancy (MSA) was earned at Walsh College in Troy, Michigan.
Glenn’s childhood dream was to protect the world as a member of Her Majesty’s secret service, but now he’s happy at home making the dreams of his little boy come true.
Known for his personable approach to life, Rich got his taste for payroll working with the Northbridge Companies as Assistant Business Office Manager at the Carriage House at Lee’s Farm. He also worked in several of their sister locations as flexible Concierge, and as a field intern at their Assisted Living facility, Stonebridge at Burlington.
With a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from Westfield State University, Rich served as Class President and was a Resident Assistant. He’s the type of guy whose good deeds and willingness to help would have you calling him a Boy Scout. And you’d be right. He earned his Eagle Scout in September of 2011.
When not hiking or camping, Rich can be found provoking friends and loved ones to join him on his next adventure.
On top of Kathy’s “To Do” list for the past 15 years? Keeping clients happy with stellar customer service. After attending the University of Michigan, Kathy’s key to success stems from how she embodies her responsibilities as part of each client’s total payroll experience. In other words, she can be counted on to help a client understand a payroll process, assist with training, or even repair an office machine.
Known as the plant manager in the office, word got out, and clients have been known to bring their dying plants to her. Maybe that’s why she’s often found in her backyard with an iced tea watching her flowers grow.
Kathy’s diverse fondness for kale, “Duck Dynasty” and great music is only trumped by being mom to two Pomeranian dogs.
A great team is the starting point to successful solutions
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