Cornerstone PEO: Supporting businesses nationwide from Medford

Cornerstone PEO has been having growing pains of the best kind. A Professional Employers Organization (PEO), the company went from supporting just 9 companies during its first year in operation in 2013 to 3,000 clients nationwide this year. The Medford-based firm is solidly in the top 10% of PEOs in the country, says Ronald Hodge, Cornerstone PEO’s owner and CEO.

Hodge largely credits Cornerstone’s enthusiastic, capable staff for the rapid growth. “We have so much young talent with great instinct to anticipate what companies need – and most importantly – to deliver those services,” he says.

Cornerstone works with companies in the healthcare, security, hospitality, temporary staffing and construction industries, and has more than 200 South Jersey clients.

“We take all the non-revenue producing functions of a client’s business off their plate,” says Hodge. “That way you can do what you do as a businessperson to help your business be successful. Our clients benefit from our technology and expertise, and the fact that we work with so many means we have created an economy of scale for them.”

Cornerstone PEO employs about 85 staff in offices in Florida, California, Colorado and Texas, including 20 at its South Jersey headquarters. As a human resource outsourcing company, Cornerstone manages payroll and payroll taxes, employee benefits, workers’ compensation and unemployment claims, risk management and compliance, investment programs and more for their clients who employ a total of 55,000 staff. Cornerstone’s payroll management has grown from $5 million to about $800 million.

Hodge attributes Cornerstone’s success as a “boutique PEO, where we build relationships and know our clients and deliver what they need – not cookie-cutter services,” and to his staff, especially his son, Stephen, CFO and COO, who is responsible for all Cornerstone’s day-to-day operations.

“Stephen took Cornerstone to another level,” says Hodge. “He has a master’s degree in mathematics, and since he joined us, we’ve really grown quickly.”

In addition to Stephen and his older brother, Chris, who is a board member and responsible for managing the investments of Cornerstone’s insurance company and 401k, Hodge’s son-in-law, Steve Newbert, is the vice president of strategic operations, managing all IT work and system integration.

Hodge, who has hired most of his staff through personal referrals, stresses the value and importance of working with so many direct connections.

“It’s the people,” he says. “My relationships have brought in business, but those who work for us now – some of the smartest minds in the business with the know-how to work with our state-of-the-art technology – have helped Cornerstone take off.

“We have also developed great relationships in our community and are heavily involved with the Ronald McDonald House of South Jersey and the Unified Sports through Special Olympics Foundation run out of Seneca High School. All our employees participate in fundraising activities for community organizations, too,” he adds.

And now, thanks to all their hard work and great success, the family has outgrown its former Medford office and recently bought the formerly bright yellow Pop Shop on Main Street in Medford. The corner building has been a Medford icon since opening as a bank in 1834, and Ron has taken the original Burlington County Bank building back to its roots, painting the exterior a dark grey with white trim and using archival photos and bank ledgers as interior design elements.

“My wife, Virginia, has led the changes and is working closely with our architect,” says Hodge, adding that everything should be ready to open in mid-January.

On the main floor, the 10΄x10΄ vault – complete with its original thick door – is being transformed into a kitchen and lounge area, while the offices are spread around the perimeter. “We will have a full kitchen, he says, “a place for our staff to relax, and plenty of room to grow.”


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