How Pepper Construction Is Using Criterion To Overcome Integration Obstacles

Pepper Construction Company
Chicago, IL
Construction & Engineering
Company Size
Products Used
HR, Payroll


Pepper Construction is a general contracting company with five offices across the Midwest, employing more than 750 people and generating more than a billion dollars in revenue each year by building marquee and specialty projects using sustainable material, and efficient systems.

The team at Pepper Construction started out with a limited benefits administration system, but as time passed had to add several modules and heavily customize the software. Then, they adopted a popular ERP for architectural, engineering and construction organizations in North America. While this industry-specific ERP offered a payroll module, it lacked any administrative or HCM support.

Like many large companies, Pepper Construction was required to comply with the Form 1095 requirements instituted by the Affordable Care Act. With more than 500 employees, an additional 500 trade workers, and being a signatory to local unions in some markets, their previous benefit administration process was no longer going to cut it.


When Julie Kellman, Director of Compensation and Benefits at Pepper Construction, began to search for a better solution in early 2018, she talked to 24 different vendors.

Once those vendors found out the connection was to a custom platform, most found it to be too challenging. With this in mind, Kellman was worried that implementing a new HCM system would involve a swarm of developers descending on company headquarters. Then, she discovered Criterion’s HCM solution.

"Criterion was willing to engage with us. My assistant was threatening to send me to HRIS Anonymous. The required integration with the ERP payroll module was a conversation-ender with everyone else. Pepper is known for leveraging the most advanced technology available to deliver real value. I needed a state-of-the-art HR system, and Criterion were the only ones who could partner with us to deliver what we need."


Since coming online, employees at Pepper Construction love having one unified portal for everything HR. “They don’t have to go to four different places to do something, whether it's to update their list of dependents or watching training-on-demand videos.”

And for those working in HCM functions, Kellman appreciates that Criterion is completely customizable, down to the font and color on screen. “It takes five minutes if I need to add a message screen,” she said. “We can do it all, we don’t have any need for programming or development beyond things we've asked Criterion to add."

"Because our needs were so specific and we had significant improvements to make, partnering with a platform that has reliable technology was exactly what we needed. And they are responsive. We're now moving to the final test, which is parallel payroll processing.

I have to temper Criterion's ability to accomplish requests with the time it might take to get it done, but they deliver. We couldn’t get that sort of responsiveness from larger HCM providers."

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Julie Kellman
Director of Compensation and Benefits, Pepper Construction
"I've learned that with a software company, you're not just buying the application, you're buying the people behind it. Sometimes you focus on the application and forget you need the people behind it. And that's the secret sauce."

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