“Originally published in the Summer 2016 FAPEO Update Newsletter”
The life story of FAPEO President Frank W. Crum, Jr., is also the story of the PEO industry itself. As a pioneer of the industry, he serves as an insider eyewitness to the many changes and challenges the industry has experienced, from pre-regulation days till now.
Frank’s employment story begins very early, all the way back to age 5.
“Before my involvement in the PEO industry, I was a person who, from a young age, was ingrained with a very strong work ethic and the humility that comes from knowing that every good thing comes from our Creator,” he says. “I began working at the age of 5 doing lawn work, and at the age of 14 I went to work in retail.”
Frank was born in 1949 in Pensacola, Florida. He spent the first three years of his life at Old Miss, where his dad was a college football player. Upon his graduation in 1952, Frank Crum, Sr., was inducted as an officer in the U.S. Army, and he was stationed in Germany.
“My mother and I lived with my great grandmother and grandfather at a home they named ‘The Homeplace’ just outside of Waycross, Georgia,” Frank recalls. “It was there that I experienced firsthand the richness, the love and the spirituality of old-time South Georgia. I shall never forget those days.”
The young Frank Crum’s work ethic showed in his commitment to education and athletics, earning him a football scholarship at Furman University where he played for two years before sustaining an injury. Frank completed his college education as a member of the 1972 charter class of Florida Technological University, which is now the University of Central Florida. He went on to attend the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, pastoring a church while he was a full-time student.
After working in ministry, banking and retail, Frank and his father became business partners, opening The Great American Temporary Service staffing company. This was Frank’s segue to the PEO industry.
“Within the first several years of our new staffing business, we began to provide ‘payroll transfer plan services,’ which was a precursor to the PEO industry model,” he explains. “In 1986, I officially founded what was then considered an employee leasing company, and over time both my father and I shared ownership of both businesses: the staffing company and the PEO, where I served as president of both.”
Frank helped to pioneer the PEO model and involved himself in the very beginnings of the National Association of Staff Leasing, which eventually decided to change the industry name to professional employer organization. Frank recalls how this came about, saying, “Prior to industry regulation, the PEO industry model was popularized by a company that used a loophole to claim that leased employees were exempt from ERISA requirements. This created inequity between employers and employees, but industry leaders including my dad and I worked to advocate for legislation that eliminated the inequities and established a level playing field for what now is a thriving industry.”
Today, Frank is the president and CEO of FrankCrum, a full-service PEO in Clearwater.
“I opened a PEO to address the changing needs of our clients in the staffing business,” he says. “The PEO model enabled us to do more for our clients and provide them with greater value in areas where they were struggling, such as payroll administration, finding affordable workers’ compensation insurance and offering major medical to employees.”
Frank appreciates this value-adding aspect of the PEO business.
“I enjoy knowing at the end of every day that we have made a difference to clients and to the PEO employees who we pay,” he says. “We’ve made a difference in areas like SUTA rates, group health, EPLI, HR advice, payroll and workers’ compensation. The PEO partnership enables us to make a difference, and because of that, our clients’ businesses get stronger.”
Having been there at the industry’s beginnings, Frank’s story includes an element of struggle.
“Our company has grown and changed a lot over the years,” he says. “In the early years, before a solid foundation of regulation existed, it was hard to compete against companies that didn’t have strong ethics. So during that time, we grew rather slowly because we were often underbid by competitors. When the industry became regulated, the playing field leveled, and we began to pick up our rate of growth, which has continued to today.”
Frank says that the growth of the PEO industry is actually helped in some measure by increasing regulations on businesses.
“I believe that because the regulatory burdens on businesses are increasing every year, they need us even more in order to survive and thrive in the human resources landscape,” Frank declares. “I believe that the PEO industry plays a vital role in helping businesses comply and stay out of trouble—out of harm’s way.”
Then Frank dons his FAPEO chairman’s hat for a moment to address the flip side of regulation.
“While regulations have provided the environment for the true value a PEO can provide to American businesses, I think new legislation can also pose a threat to that symbiotic relationship,” he explains. “One piece of bad legislation could place our clients in an onerous situation and make it difficult for them to survive.”
Frank recognizes the efforts of both federal and state legislators who have worked in cooperation with the PEO industry to pass helpful legislation.
“I am very grateful for U.S. Representative David Jolly of St. Petersburg for his help in passing the Small Business Efficiency Act,” Frank says. “The PEO industry lobby has done a tremendous job of advocating for the fruitful relationship between PEOs and American business, and this has helped to make the PEO industry so outstanding. And on a local level, Senator Jack Latvala of the Florida State Senate, and countless others in public service, have worked to protect the PEO industry and small business.”
Naturally Frank credits FAPEO for helping to build and protect the PEO industry in our state.
“FAPEO represents the real leader in Florida to me, and its reach extends across the nation in building a model of regulation that protects the businesses and employers of Florida, as well as the PEOs,” Frank says.
“My hat is off in great gratitude to Mike Miller, our FAPEO general counsel, who has been involved since the association’s beginnings, and to Torben Madson, who spearheads things on the workers’ comp side as our associate general counsel,” he continues. “My hat is also off to Robert Skrob, our executive director, for running our association so wisely for decades. And I’m also grateful to David Daniel, our wonderful lobbyist, who has faithfully protected our industry from outside harm by making meaningful connections with fellow associations and legislators over the years. He took the baton from a great man, Ron Villella, whose contribution was outstanding. From the bottom of my heart, I thank FAPEO and its leaders for all that you do for our industry.”
Frank is married to Brenda, and the couple raises alpaca on their ranch in Odessa, Florida, which is home to more than 200 of the South American camelids, relatives to the camel.
“Brenda runs the ranch, but I enjoy occasionally helping and witnessing the baby cria being born,” Frank says. “I also enjoy watching football, having dinner with my family and smoking an occasional cigar, although I’ve found myself resisting the temptation to smoke these days.”
Frank’s family includes three adult children, Hope, Haley and Matthew. All three are married, and so far the growing family includes five grandchildren and one great-grandchild, “with more on the way,” he says.
For more information, visit FrankCrum.com