ADDRESS: 316 SW Washington Ave, Corvallis, OR
OWNER: Ilene Anderton
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 18
WHAT THEY SELL: Payroll and payroll reporting services
WHY YOU SHOULD GO: To save time, money, and the frustration often related to payroll paperwork
Ilene Anderton, owner of Employee Leasing Fund, is well-known for her “can do” spirit. Whether helping local businesses solve their paperwork challenges or assisting local non-profits in working toward their goals, Ilene lends a hand with professional expertise and a warm smile. A long-time Corvallis business person and area resident, Ilene is clearly devoted to her community.
Ilene, when and why did you decide to start Employee Leasing Fund? I started the business in 1995 when one of the local real estate firms came to me asking for help. Each of their brokers was an individual employer, and the firm didn’t want to file 50 or so quarterly payroll reports. I was working at A&S Accounting, and they asked, “Isn’t there an easier way for us to do this?!” So I started Employee Leasing Fund. We now have between 45 and 50 local businesses that we serve.
Tell us more about your services. Employee Leasing Fund (ELF) is a professional employment organization (PEO), not an employment agency. We deal with the paperwork of having employees. The employer does the hiring and firing, screening, interviewing, and so on; we take care of all the paperwork related to payroll. The advantage is that ELF has a blanket Workers’ Comp policy and files a consolidated quarterly report, which can save a lot of money for a small business. It’s basically for people who have part-time or seasonal workers, or just one or two employees – although we do have some businesses that have continued with us even after they’ve grown.
If you’re an employer, you have to do the paperwork every quarter for payroll taxes, whether you have employees or not. So we do it for them. Technically, on paper, the employees are employees of ELF. At payroll time, the employers turn in their hours, and we write the paychecks. We send each employer a bill that includes the payroll, payroll taxes and their fee, which is very reasonable. They write just one check – that’s all they have to do.
What does being featured as the Local Business of the Week mean to you? It gives us an opportunity to explain our business.
Does your business fill an unusual niche? Why should people patronize your business? Yes, we definitely fill an unusual niche. I don’t know of any other PEOs here in the Corvallis area, although there are some in Portland and nationwide. Our business offers employers an opportunity to simplify their employment reporting, and it saves them money on Workers’ Comp.
What challenges have you faced as an independent local business owner? We haven’t had too many challenges, since our business has grown steadily without any advertising. The only major challenge we’ve had was when our Workers’ Comp carrier bid these things out. Prior to that, we had a very good relationship with a local insurance company that provided Workers’ Comp through our carrier. But a company in Wisconsin got the bid, and they had no idea what a professional employment organization was, so we had a rough time. This affirmed the importance of dealing with providers at the local level – people you can talk to and with whom we have a relationship. SAIF is now our local Workers’ Comp carrier.
What does the future look like for the local independents? We do accounting for a lot of local businesses, and most of them are doing well. We’ve had some startups as clients, and they’re doing well. During the recent recession, the hardest hit were the construction businesses, but those are beginning to turn around.
What do you enjoy most about owning a local, independent business in Corvallis? My clients! I like helping businesses succeed, and I like helping them solve their problems. We take the paperwork off their hands.
What is your relationship to the community? I’ve been the treasurer of CIBA ever since it was founded. I’m also a founding member of PEERS [Professional Education Enhancement Referral and Support – a network by and for women in business and entrepreneurs]. We’ve been meeting every week since 1986! I’m associated with a lot of non-profits, and we do pro bono tax returns for several. I’m also the treasurer of the Corvallis Homeless Shelter Coalition, the Corvallis Daytime Drop-in Center and a trustee of Suburban Christian Church.
How important is sustainability to you and your business? We focus a lot on the social aspects of sustainability. We manage money for about 300 mental health clients through a non-profit we started called Paye, Inc. We also serve as something of a distribution center. For example, Big River Bread drops off their day-old bread here, and it’s picked up by groups like the Daytime Drop-in Center and Southside Youth Outreach.
(Interview and article by Annette Mills – January 5, 2014)
The Local Business of the Week program is designed to help the Corvallis community identify our locally owned independent businesses by featuring one business each week. The program is part of the Buy Local First campaign co-sponsored by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and the Community Independent Business Alliance (CIBA).