How BAPKO Modernized Their Payroll and HR System With Criterion

BAPKO Metal, Inc.
Construction & Engineering
Company Size
Products Used
Payroll, HR

As a construction company specializing in miscellaneous and ornamental metal structures, BAPKO Metal, Inc. (BAPKO) deals with a lot of complexity. Their projects (including hand railing, elevator shafts, and support beams for machinery) require skillful workers and a flexible system to manage all their labor at scale.

In 2018, when BAPKO entered a new period of intense growth, they realized their payroll and accounting software couldn’t keep up. To remain in full compliance and streamline payroll and HR processes, BAPKO needed a powerful HCM product that worked with their unique needs. Criterion HCM offered the perfect solution.

We spoke with Eric Ogawa, the Controller at BAPKO to learn how Criterion has improved their operations.


Before Criterion, BAPKO used an older Sage product for virtually all of their accounting, payroll, and employee management processes. For timesheets and time tracking, they used a rudimentary add-on which didn’t provide the functionality they needed. Salaried workers didn’t have time sheets, and pay stubs had to be generated manually each pay period. The whole process was cumbersome and difficult to work with.

“When I learned how we had to add the vacation balance and sick time balance to that pay stub in [our previous solution], it was a mess. The system didn’t really truly track it, so we had a secondary spreadsheet tracking accrued vacation and sick time. Then the system did its weird thing, and we’d always be making adjustments to that anyway.”

What's more, BAPKO had no HR system of record. This meant employee information management, time off requests, tax configurations and similar tickets had to be solved manually by the HR team.

“Vacation balances was a huge one. I think our HR manager would answer 2 to 3 questions a day about it.”
“That used to be part of the payroll process: looking at those requests (those paper requests), and then cross checking to make sure they actually had the balance, the time to use.”

Before long, BAPKO outgrew the older solution entirely. As they were doubling in size, they also became an employee-owned company. To continue their trajectory of growth, they needed a system that would help them ensure compliance. Being signatory to the California Field IronWorkers union, they started looking for software that could handle the complexity of union payroll and remain compliant with all laws in their industry. They also needed to get salaried employees on formal timesheets, produce reliable paystubs, and streamline HR requests.


During their search for a new accounting platform, BAPKO discovered Sage Intacct, a best-in-class ERP built to handle the complexity of construction companies and nonprofits. Sage Intacct recommended Criterion HCM as a perfect payroll and HR solution to pair with their ERP. After seeing a demo, the team at BAPKO was convinced Criterion could handle all of their payroll challenges.

Implementation took just a few months, while the team at Criterion helped BAPKO integrate the HCM into their existing processes step by step.

“Honestly … going through the implementation process with the implementation team and everything else has just been great.”

According to Eric, the setup for union-based payroll in Criterion was much easier than with previous HCM solutions. Plus, the support was exactly what they needed.

“I mean, you go from a software where you call in to support and they just read knowledge base articles to THIS— where the Criterion Client Success team have been asking us if we have feature requests so they can get them developed — I don’t even know how to explain the [difference] — it’s so awesome!”


Once they started using Criterion, BAPKO’s payroll, accounting, and HR processes all improved dramatically. Since then, they have reported several positive results, including:

Ability to Process Complex Payroll

Previously, processing payroll for a workforce made up of union and non-union employees was difficult, to say the least.

“There were like four or five hidden tables that you had to figure out where they were [in order to] update them — and then update them when the union fringe benefits change and the pay rates change.”

Today, Criterion makes this process easy. By entering a new employee into the system, the team at BAPKO can quickly process payroll according to union status and varying local pay rates automatically.

“It's as simple as creating a table and all of the union elements are within that table, including the apprentice pay rates and everything.”

The best feature, says Ogawa, is the ability to convert employee time sheets into pay batches. This saves them a massive amount of time each pay period.

“We used to go all the way to the end of our direct deposit timeline deadlines. Now, we are able to process a live payroll within two business days. So they shaved off like a day and a half [of the payroll process].”

In addition, they are now able to produce accurate paystubs reliably every time. All documents related to payroll are clean and consistent with all the information in the right place — and employees love it.

“We got a lot of comments about it from our staff, thanking us for doing this and making it look nice.”

Saved Time With Employee Self Service Options

Before Criterion, employees adjusting their tax withholdings, checking time off balances, and more had to directly request that information from the HR and payroll teams.

“We were spending a lot of time preparing those check stubs, distributing them throughout the company, and then also getting those requests back about balances and taxes.”

Now, self service options save BAPKO a ton of time. In the employee portal, employees can make those changes or requests themselves.

“That’s taken the pressure immensely off the HR team…definitely with everybody being able to see their balances … we don't get those questions. I haven't seen a question like that in a long time.”

Seamless Mobile App Functionality

In the old system, the mobile app’s quirks made it especially difficult for union and field employees to clock in from the job site. It collected time punches from remote locations, but would not transmit to the main system without a WiFi connection.

That was a big problem. Once remote employees returned to the office (or an internet connection), they had to manually sync the data to make sure it was correct in the main system. Otherwise, the whole process was subject to errors or missing/duplicate data.

With Criterion, syncing is no longer an issue. Since the platform is built on a single database, time data is connected to the rest of the system and automatically correlated with pay rates, location, etc. Now, the team at BAPKO can determine which crews are clocking in (or not) and from what location, in real time.

“With Criterion … it just works. You just go in there and punch in. In the demonstration…we were punching in on our cell phones and watching it clock in and clock out on the website.”

Streamlined Hiring Workflows

Criterion also makes it easier to hire and onboard new employees. Whenever BAPKO is ready to bring on a new qualified candidate, they can assign them to a specific position which connects to a specific pay rate, benefits package, time off plan, and a custom workflow for seamless onboarding. They only have to enter the employee’s information, and the system takes care of the rest.

“We have a new hire, we enter the employee in, we set them up with the right time off plan for their position — from that time forward, it calculates itself.”

Enhanced Labor Cost Allocation and Reporting

For any union-affiliated company (especially in construction), job costing is a huge part of the business. BAPKO sees a lot of employee turnover across jobs for various reasons. For instance, they might have a project that only lasts a few months or weeks. During these times, they may have workers that are only on payroll for the duration of the project. A few months later, they may rehire that person for another project and effectively terminate them again once it's over.

With the previous system, it was nearly impossible to get a clear financial picture of how turnover impacted job costs. They simply didn’t have space in the system to track or report on that data.

With Criterion, BAPKO can track company-wide metrics and generate multi-level job cost reports with the click of a button. This provides a clear picture of how hiring and rehiring correlate to their success.

“For the HR side, [we] are able to follow that and track that to keep up with all those changes a lot better.”

Criterion keeps track of each employee that has ever worked for the company, along with their entire pay history. This way, if the hiring team wants to offer a pay increase, they can chart a previous employee’s pay rate(s) to determine what they should be paid now based on the trend. It doesn’t even require an extra spreadsheet to generate this report — all of the data and reporting functionality is available within one system.

“We probably forgot how we used to do things in the previous system.”

Dedicated Customer Support

In addition to a modernized payroll and HR system, BAPKO also enjoys intelligent support from a dedicated customer success rep. When they call Criterion for help with their system, we’re always ready to solve their problems and improve operations in any way we can.

“The support team is awesome… I don't even think it takes a day to get a response. It's typically like within a few minutes to an hour. So, yeah, for sure, I would recommend it.”

At Criterion, we believe great service is the only service worth providing. That’s why every account receives a dedicated Client Success Manager. When you call us, you’ll speak to someone who knows you, your business, and your unique setup.

How Can Criterion Improve Your Operations?

At Criterion, we specialize in helping construction companies meet their goals for payroll efficiency and compliance. For HR-related tasks, our software is built to handle all your complexity at scale. Whether you need help with multi-state payroll, multi-union payroll, labor cost allocation, advanced reporting, or hiring and onboarding — Criterion is your solution.

Our HCM is designed with real HR professionals in mind. That’s why we created a completely configurable platform that you can integrate with any third-party software using our completely open API. We remain flexible so we can work within your existing system, no matter what that looks like.

Book a demo to learn how Criterion can improve your organization today.

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Eric Ogawa
“For the level of service, the ease of use, and just the interface that we deal with on a daily basis — it's definitely worthwhile.”

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