Twenty years ago, Brent Tilson saw an unmet need in Greenwood for a company that could offer human resources, payroll and other services to local businesses.
He left his job as an accountant to open a management company serving Greenwood businesses, starting in a 6,000-square-foot office off Emerson Avenue.
His company, Tilson HR, now has hundreds of clients in 49 states, with its headquarters still in Greenwood and a satellite office in Arizona.
Over the next five years, the company plans to add 245 jobs and invest $1.55 million to renovate and expand its headquarters in the South Park Business Center, just off Interstate 65.
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Tilson HR currently employs 70 people at its headquarters in Greenwood but has grown by nearly 50 percent in the past year, including the addition of a client in Michigan that employs 700 people nationwide.
Tilson provides human resources, IT, risk management and benefits services to corporations and businesses, both small and large. The main focus of Tilson’s company was to assist small businesses that face the challenges of keeping top talent, following laws and regulations and maintaining affordable employee benefits, Tilson said.
In recent years, that has included helping companies figure out how to comply with new federal legislation as part of health care reform.
In 1995, the company’s original office was nearly 6,000 square feet, but it moved to a 10,000-square-foot office in 2001. In 2008, the company built its current 20,000-square-foot headquarters at 1530 American Way.
“It’s so rewarding to build a business in the same community where I grew up,” Tilson said. “There is no better place Tilson could put down its roots than right here in Greenwood.”
Tilson now will renovate and expand its headquarters to make room for more employees.
Greenwood has offered the company a tax break, but Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers declined to discuss the details of it. The state offered up to $1.5 million in tax credits as the company continues to grow, and $100,000 in training grants.
Over the next five years, Tilson HR will add positions in human resources, payroll and management. Each will be full-time with benefits, and the pay will average $16.85 an hour.
Those new employees are needed to manage the services Tilson HR is providing to hundreds of companies across the country. The rate the company has grown in recent years requires it to add employees, Tilson said. Tilson’s growth has been fueled by interest from key industries, including nonprofit organizations, small to midsized businesses and high-growth companies.
Approved Mortgage, also based in Greenwood, came to Tilson in 2010 for help with procedures in human resources so it could focus more on the primary purpose of the company, President Derrick Christy said.
The growth of Tilson HR has been due to companies like Christy’s that expand and then pass on Tilson’s services through word-of-mouth, creating a national brand, Tilson said.
Tilson was joined by Myers and Gov. Mike Pence on Wednesday to announce the company’s growth spurt. Greenwood was always the place he wanted his company to be, Tilson said.
That dedication to keeping the company where it was founded, no matter how large it has grown, is creating jobs and enhancing the city’s economy, Myers said.
Whether 245 Greenwood residents take the jobs created by Tilson or 245 new residents move to Greenwood because of those jobs, the city benefits, Myers said.
Tilson is looking at further expansion and other areas in the city where the business can grow and add locations.
Tilson, who serves on the Greenwood Redevelopment Commission, continually looks to bring new ideas and developments to the city, Myers said.
“Having Brent Tilson in our city is something every city would die to have,” Myers said. “He’s a homegrown kid that started his business here and built it across the U.S. He’s an entrepreneur, and his brain never stops working.”
Here is a closer look at Tilson HR:
Location: 1530 American Way, Greenwood
History: Started by Brent Tilson in 1995
Services: Human resources, personnel, IT and benefits management
Employees: Currently 70
Growth plan: The company plans to add 245 jobs and invest $1.55 million to renovate and expand its Greenwood headquarters by 2020