CTR stands for many things, but above all it’s about being irreplaceable, relentless problem solvers
When William Duffy started CTR in 1964, CTR stood for “Cincinnati Time Recorders,” as CTR was a distributor of paper punch time clocks and parking revenue collection machines.
Less than 20 years later, CTR brought what was then an innovative new product to the market: PC-based time and attendance systems. Over the next 25 years, as the demand for automated time solutions increased, CTR became one of the largest and most successful time and attendance distributors in the Northeastern U.S.
As CTR grew, clients demanded more integrated solutions such as payroll and human capital management solutions, and in 1999 the company added a payroll outsourcing division, CTR Payroll.
Fast forward to 2020. Bridget Escobar and Nicole Mills are leading CTR Payroll into the new decade with
a fresh energy and strategy. The cousins took over the oversight of CTR from Dru Duffy, Escobar’s father and Mark Pitchford, Mill’s father in January 2019.
Bridget Escobar is a Labor and Employment attorney who worked for a national firm before joining
the family business as CTR Parking Division’s corporate attorney. The family has since sold its parking division. Nicole Mills started her sales career after graduating from University of Pittsburgh and worked for a national media company before joining CTR.
“When we joined the business, parking was our primary focus,” Escobar said. For 10 years prior to assuming leadership roles in CTR Payroll, she and Mills worked in client service and sales positions within the company as the CTR Payroll Division moved to center stage. Escobar serves as President and Managing Partner overseeing the operations duties. Mills is Vice President and Managing Partner in charge of sales and marketing.
So, what does CTR stand for now? As a privately-held, third-generation, thriving woman-owned business, Escobar and Mills jokingly say it’s “Chicks that Rock!” With both having small children at home, they can certainly relate to the constant juggling act many women face to have a steady work life balance. In reality, CTR is so much more than its three letters.
“We’ve been working hard to put our own brand on CTR,” continued Escobar. We started by asking our own employees why they think clients choose CTR.”
Employees told them CTR’s strength was in being relentless problem solvers. Escobar says many team members have over twenty years
in the industry. There is almost
no challenge they have not encountered. As such, they are
able to solve problems and develop creative solutions their competitors can’t or won’t touch.
CTR focuses on mid- to up-market companies with 50+ employees primarily in Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania-Ohio regions. Located just miles north of Pittsburgh in
Warrendale, PA, CTR’s 30 seasoned associates are experts in working with these size companies and
the interesting intricacies of Pennsylvania and local taxes as they relate to payroll processing. Escobar says she considers their experience with Pennsylvania’s local tax laws to be a competitive advantage more than they are a challenge. CTR also has a small group of people located in a Southwest Florida sales office.
Escobar and Mills also instituted a new Company Vision and Core Focus– to be an Irreplaceable Partner to their growing client base. “Many businesses see payroll processing and technology as a commodity. We wanted to change that mindset.”
To build stronger relationships with new and existing customers, CTR upped its marketing strategy. That includes an updated website, frequent blogs, a client newsletter with a
featured client spotlight that is also shared on its social media platforms, ongoing webinars and the list goes on. CTR also added a Client Relationship Manger role to meet one-on-one with clients to provide ongoing training and support.
Additionally, CTR is working to continue to expand service offerings to its clients. In 2018, CTR added
its Insurance and Benefits Services Division. With this new service, CTR acts as the broker, benefits administrator, and payroll provider for its clients. The company also added a managed payroll service where businesses can outsource more payroll functions to its team members. This has proved to be a valuable service to businesses that are stretched thin due to layoffs during the pandemic. Escobar and Mills maintain a close relationship with a group of 10 like-minded IPPA payroll service members that share challenges and best practices. CTR has been a member of the IPPA for over five years.
“We appreciate the ability to talk to other payroll owners and to benchmark the industry through conferences,” she said. “IPPA is also an important industry instrument in the legislative arena.”
Just like most of us, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way CTR is doing business and servicing its client base.
“Yes… we’ve been crazy busy but are also so lucky that our business has the ability to do 90 percent of our job remotely when needed,” explained Escobar. “It’s proved our workforce flexibility and I’m so proud of our team who is delivering the same level of service remotely our clients have come to expect.”
When the pandemic hit, Escobar and Mills stressed to the team that this would be a defining moment for CTR as an essential business to either succeed or fail in meeting our service commitments to our customers.
CTR quickly developed and added
a massive number of resources to its website as well as holding many new webinars to assist clients with understanding the plethora of new legislation and challenges related to employers conducting business and dealing with HR and employees in this new normal.
“We had an enormous responsibility to be there as a payroll provider and an irreplaceable partner.”
“It has always been a challenge
to move clients’ thinking from payroll being just a commodity,” she continued. “Now that we have
become a lifeline to employers, we have been able to form relationships with the C-level executives and company owners we rarely could before. They are finding their payroll vendor is crucial during this crisis and they see us as their partner to help get them through it.”
While CTR’s hard work during the pandemic has served to strengthen its relationships with its clients Escobar discusses the challenges
for developing new relationships.
“As independent payroll providers we differentiate ourselves through face-to-face meetings. That’s what makes us special and sets us apart from the national competitors. Prospects enjoy coming to our office and meeting the support and service team members even before they sign the deal. It will be more important than ever to find new ways to continue to develop and strengthen
relationships through website, social media and email marketing.”
CTR has undergone a veritable renaissance and at the heart of it
all is the company culture. “We wanted to be a company that walked the walk when it came to valuing its employees and creating an environment where they felt appreciated and empowered.” Escobar and Mills focused on recognizing the strengths of their team members to create a fresh new culture that fostered teamwork and fun. “We are very proud of what we’ve accomplished so far, but even more excited for what lies ahead!” concluded Escobar.
If you have a minute, check out the fun, lighthearted YouTube video team members created to lift up spirits during these trying times. It was posted to CTR’s LinkedIn and Facebook pages in early May.