BY Chris Chaney

Editor, PEO Insider

June/July 2024


Dave Lawrence grew up insisting he would never join the family business. He wasn’t interested. It wasn’t for him. After graduating from college with an economics and business degree, he found a sales job with a Connecticut-based company. The company sold awards programs, and Dave ran the Gulf South region out of his native New Orleans. Not much later, Dave and his wife Teresa married. The young couple both had solid, good paying sales jobs they each loved. Life was on the right track.

In May of 1988, oil prices collapsed. Off-shore oil drilling and refining is a big industry along the Gulf Coast. The New Orleans economy suffered quite a bit as the ripple effects swept further into the business community.

Two of those businesses affected were owned by Dave’s father. Lawrence Personnel (a recruiting agency) and Delta Temporary Services (a staffing company). Dave’s brother had joined the business by this point, but Dave was still reluctant to be involved. Dave’s father impressed upon him that he needed Dave (with his accounting knowledge) to come on board and look at the books.

Dave said yes. In fact, Teresa said yes, too. They both quit their sales jobs and joined the family business.

“If you knew my dad, you knew he lived for work. He had no hobbies, he just worked all the time,” Dave says. “I found out the business had a lot of debt and very little revenue and owed the IRS quite a bit. We had to save the family business for my parents, or they would have nothing.”

Dave and Teresa jumped full throttle into the staffing world which they knew next to nothing about. They slowly learned how the business operated and began to turn things around. The business rebounded.

In 1992, the company joined an association of staffing companies called TempNet. Membership was geography based and the Lawrences represented New Orleans. The association connected Dave and Teresa to fellow staffing professionals who could share knowledge and experience. It also led to their first encounter with PEOs.

“In the mid-1990s, a Texas-based PEO began partnering with staffing companies to market their PEO services,” Dave recalls, “They flew me out to Dallas for a meeting and taught me about PEOs.”

Right away, Dave says, he was sold. He loved the idea and embraced the concept. Helping small businesses grow and thrive was right up Dave’s alley. He was hooked. So were many others; about 12 fellow TempNet members also began working with this PEO, he says.

What could go wrong? During sales training, leadership insisted on a one call close. Dave immediately saw the futility.

“In the Deep South, you don’t meet someone for the first time and just turn your business over to them,” he says, “It’s a long sales process.”

After six months, the Lawrences parted ways with the PEO. A few years later, they heard about a New Orleans-based PEO buying up other PEOs. Then, the company acquired its largest PEO yet out of Little Rock, Arkansas. Company headquarters would relocate to Little Rock, the company announced.

Everything seemed to fall into place for the Lawrences to jump back into the PEO world. The local competitor moved out of the market, and Dave had a connection to an experienced PEO salesperson. He worked for the PEO moving to Little Rock and had no interest in closing his book of business and starting over in a new market. So, Dave approached him about coming on board with his company to launch PEO services. He agreed. The first piece of the puzzle fell into place, but Dave still needed to learn quite a bit about PEOs.

Many of the staffing companies that worked with this Texas based PEO had started their own PEOs in the intervening few years, and Dave had remained friends with them. He set out on a tour around the South visiting these PEOs. He learned as much as he could and asked plenty of questions. “There’s nothing in common between a PEO and staffing company,” Dave says.

One piece of advice stuck with him. “You need an operations guy,” Dave was told. He didn’t know the ins and outs of PEO to run one by himself. He needed an experienced hand who could steer the company as it got off the ground.

Well, the PEO moving to Little Rock had just hired a new operations manager. He had relocated from Atlanta and just settled into a new house. Moving to Little Rock lacked appeal; he’d lose too much money on his house. Dave had a solution. Come work for me.

So, after insisting he would never even join the family business, Dave not only now ran the business and was about to expand the business into the PEO it is today.

“Never say never,” he laughs.

In 2020, Teresa became majority owner and CEO of Delta Administrative Services and works side by side with the love of her life. Teresa’s Cuban born status enhances Delta Administrative Services as a minority woman owned business. This year both Delta companies celebrate milestone anniversaries of 55 years in business! Both companies have plans to expand into new industries, partnering with more minority businesses and advocating for diversity and acceptance. Dave and Teresa are committed to the development of their community by actively serving on several boards of directors and working with local nonprofit organizations. Teresa currently serves on the following Board of Directors: Past Chairwoman of Jefferson Economic Development Commission, Current Vice-Chair Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana, New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, Jefferson Parish Workforce Development Board, Catholic Charities of New Orleans Board, Louisiana C.A.S.A Board, Women Business Enterprise National Council Board.

They’ve taken active roles within NAPEO and the industry, too. Networking and learning from peers have helped their business. They’re able to share their experiences with others. Dave credits Andy Lubash (CEO of New York-based Prestige PEO) with encouraging him to get involved. Andy had hoped to expand participation and representation within NAPEO from PEOs all over the country. The Gulf Coast and Louisianna needed a stronger presence. Dave agreed to become the Gulf South regional chair (now known as leadership councils). From there, he grew more involved and eventually served on the board of directors.


The Lawrences ran their first PEO payroll in January of 2001. The business began to grow, and they grew more comfortable in the PEO space. But a few years later, life in New Orleans would be turned upside down.

In late August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall. Immense and widespread devastation crippled New Orleans. Lives were changed.

For the Lawrences, that meant relocating business operations northwest to Baton Rouge. They even lived there for a year. Many of their clients had gone from thriving businesses to closed doors overnight. They essentially had to rebuild the business.

Yet, somehow, they kept up hope and focused on the future.

“We had three and a half feet of water in our home, but we didn’t feel bad because we knew so many who had lost everything,” Dave says, “We could have lived on the second floor if we had to.”

It was a time when community bonds strengthened, and everyone pulled together to bring back the vibrant life and culture of their city. Everything changed. “Nothing was the same”, Dave insists. Including how people did business. This turned out to be a silver lining.

Before the storm, many businesses seemed skeptical of the PEO concept. Turning over back-office tasks didn’t seem necessary. You know, the familiar ‘it’s worked for this long, so we don’t need to change.’ Hurricane Katrina shifted people’s mindsets. It caused people to explore new ways of doing things. Suddenly, the PEO concept and outsourcing HR functions seemed to resonate. People were intrigued and wanted to know more.

Lawrence’s PEO business really began to grow, strengthened and solidified by their longstanding reputation in the community. A lot of new clients came from referrals.

The Lawrences are trusted in their community so when businesses experience HR issues or other employment administration headaches, someone says, “You need to go talk to Dave and Teresa.”


As the industry saying goes, “if you’ve seen one PEO you’ve seen one PEO.” That’s because even though there are common strings between all PEOs, each PEO is also a unique business.

For the Lawrences, taking a hands-on approach with clients sets them apart from many. They are very proud of their staff they have assembled and know that each love what they do and always put the customers’ needs first and foremost.

Each client is assigned a team consisting of a payroll expert, a benefits expert, and a safety expert. The teams physically visit clients regularly. This approach strengthens relationships with clients and facilitates excellent service.

A hands-on approach also makes it easier to discern and understand clients’ needs. A big part of the PEO value proposition is being able to solve challenges and problems for clients. For example, during the COVID pandemic, business interruption insurance became a need. So, Dave became an expert in business interruption insurance. The pandemic also exposed a need to offer services and tools to support employees’ wellbeing and mental health. So, the company added an EAP program. The main goal is simple: helping clients feel good about where they work.

“In striving to accomplish our vision of moving people forward, we are sincerely thankful for the dedication and commitment of our internal team and the support of our external employees’ efforts,” they say.

This sort of change and transformation is what keeps the PEO industry exciting.

“Half of me feels old, half of me feels young because it’s new every day,” Dave jokes, “I can still learn.”





Voters in Indiana’s 9th Congressional district elected Congresswoman Erin Houchin to serve in the United States House of Representatives in November 2022. In doing so, Rep. Houchin became the first woman elected to Congress from her district. She also holds the distinction of being the only person elected to Congress who has worked for a PEO.Rep. Houchin spoke to PEO Insider about her decision to seek public office, her experience working for a PEO, and the policies she champions.


May 2023


Successful entrepreneurs stay on the lookout for new ideas and new ventures. They seem to have a knack for recognizing a good idea. They embrace the inherent uncertainty of starting a new business. Such was the case for Terry Hookstra in the mid 1990’s.  

BY Chris Chaney

September 2023


I’m always amused when I hear people – typically athletes or entertainers – described as “overnight sensations.” In truth, most have been toiling in obscurity for years at their chosen sport or craft until they finally catch the public’s eye. They are an overnight sensation only to those who had no idea of their work ethic and their rise, but not to those who were with them every step of the way.

BY Pat Cleary

September 2023


When you start your own company, you make your own rules. In the case of InTandem HR, Monica Denler made sure that giving back to the Centennial State was one of those rules.  Denler, InTANDEM HR’s president and CEO, began the Denver-based PEO in 2010. She founded the firm as one that would be entrenched in the community - both in the PEO services it provides as well as its volunteering efforts. 

BY Evan Fallor

September 2023


Ad for Sentara Health Plans