When Kelly Wolfe accepted her role at KPA in 2010, she didn’t envision the career path she’s come to love.
Starting as an account executive with a West Coast territory, Wolfe was in charge of helping auto dealers achieve OSHA and Safety compliance as well as HR compliance to protect their reputations and reduce costs.
“I was extremely happy in my role for more than five years, but my vice president of sales at the time was pushing to promote me,” Wolfe said. “I told him I was satisfied with where I was, but he requested I come to a meeting to learn about leadership’s vision because they had plans to restructure and envisioned me as an asset to that plan succeeding. If I didn’t like it, I could stay put.”
Wolfe flew out to Chicago to hear about KPA’s big plans, and after some back-and-forth with slight trepidation, she decided to accept the role as regional sales manager of the West.
“Now here I am eight years later, and I’ve worked my way to a role that allows me to lead the automotive sales team for the country,” Wolfe laughed. “It went in a direction that I never anticipated — and I didn’t even imagine I wanted — but I’m happy my boss pushed me to do it because I absolutely love the role I’ve grown into. Leadership saw my growth potential before I did, and now it’s been 13 years together with KPA.”
WHAT DOES KPA DO?
KPA provides Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) and workforce compliance software and consulting services designed to help companies maintain regulatory compliance and keep their employees safe. As the company has grown over the past 30 years, its focus has expanded beyond the automotive industry and into several new markets.
Like Wolfe’s career, KPA has grown in unexpected ways over the last three decades.
Launched in 1986, the company originated with a sole focus on automotive EHS compliance with no technical software. Consultants were sent out with a yellow metal box containing waste disposal documentation to help clients navigate various compliance issues. As KPA found its footing, the documents in those yellow boxes expanded in scope, and technical teams developed software to help consultants be more efficient by eliminating clipboards and spreadsheets, which eventually became an indispensable tool for customers.
“Even though we were an EHS company, we were continuously asked questions about HR compliance because of the required programs and trainings businesses needed to complete,” Wolfe said. “Based on client need and the regulatory environment, KPA acquired a HR company to develop that portion of the business. Over the years, several other acquisitions took place, allowing KPA to continue to expand our product offerings for automotive dealers as well as expand into different markets.”
Today the company offers solutions in several compliance areas — EHS, HR and finance and insurance — and software for a myriad of markets, including food and beverage, hospitality, manufacturing, construction, oil and gas — but they still keep that yellow metal box around as a reminder of where they came from.
“KPA continues to find success because we refuse to stop growing,” Wolfe said. “I remember the day I got the email stating we reached 100 employees. At the time, that was a milestone worth celebrating. Now we have more than 300 employees and counting. No matter where we arrive, we’re always picturing that next level we want to achieve.”
‘Listen, adapt and evolve’
Starting a new job often comes with lingering uncertainty, but for Matt Romanini, it was more than just first-day jitters.
“There was no client success department when I started with KPA in 2016,” he said. “In fact, I was transparently told that my role was considered to be a theory, and I was going to be the guinea pig.”
But with a background in business management and software solutions, Romanini drew from his past experiences and made client success his passion project. The department began to grow and by 2019, Romanini transitioned to the implementation team.
“Eventually an opportunity presented itself to join the success team, and I jumped at the chance to hone my skills even further. I got to focus on building deeper relationships with our clients one on one,” he said. “Though I’ve held multiple positions, I always got to stick with what I did best, which was helping people realize the greatest value through our different products.”
“I always got to stick with what I did best, which was helping people realize the greatest value through our different products.”
Being able to build strong relationships with clients is essential, Romanini said, because there are constant regulatory changes to keep up with on a state-by-state basis. In turn, KPA’s offerings have continuously evolved.
“We are not an IT company, but our clients were in need of an IT program,” Romanini said. “Instead of saying ‘We don’t do that,’ we went out and partnered with specific IT companies that could provide what they needed.”
It’s in KPA’s DNA to listen, adapt and evolve, Romanini said. And so he enters every meeting with prospects and longstanding clients with curiosity and understanding, and a mission to grow into a one-stop shop for everything compliance-related. Since 1986, KPA’s evolution is thanks to an investment in continuous adaptation for the business — and its employees.
“Looking back, embracing that ‘theory’ of a client success role was the best thing I could have ever done.”
‘I wasn’t ready to leave KPA’
For years, Dita Amtey envisioned her career path clearly.
She started as a risk management consultant at KPA out of the company’s Atlanta branch in 2018, and expected to rise through the ranks of consultant I to II to III. It was her job to develop and maintain strong relationships with clients through onsite field audits, deal jacket reviews and trainings in order to minimize risk.
“But eventually something happened where I needed to move to the Midwest, and upon making that decision, I realized that I wasn’t ready to leave my career at KPA behind,” Amtey said. “That’s how I found out about the solutions consultant role within the new markets team, which was a brand-new position that would fit my transition.”
In her new role, Amtey would be responsible for providing technical support throughout the sales process by proactively scoping solutions using KPA’s products and become the voice from the field providing intelligence on what clients were accomplishing with those services.
It was a deviation from Amtey’s career plan, but after eight months in the role, she’s confident it was the right choice. By working closely with a well-informed product team, a new marketing director skilled in client-facing communication, and mentoring under Director of Sales Enablement Dan Fogarty, Amtey’s career has blossomed in a new direction with ease.
“I’ve been exposed to a whole other world of sales and software,” she said. “I get to utilize everything I’ve learned over the last four years as a field consultant, learn about sales, work with prospects directly and expand my knowledge base tremendously, thanks to the endless support of my co-workers.”
“I get to utilize everything I’ve learned over the last four years as a field consultant and expand upon that.”
Transitioning to the new markets team has taught Amtey not just how to solve for immediate client needs, but also how to understand the deeper causes behind their challenges to produce long-term solutions. One of the latest solutions that Amtey will be able to leverage moving forward is KPA Connect, a social networking site for safety managers who have purchased KPA’s EHS software to exchange ideas and build their safety programs.
“A fresh approach is something we’re constantly thinking about,” Amtey added. “We thrive on customer feedback so we can put out updates every quarter to better suit their needs so they can better manage their safety programs.”
‘We’re always picturing that next level’
After expanding from serving one industry to several new verticals, tripling headcount over the last decade and introducing a multitude of new compliance services, KPA has one main objective: scaling.
“We’re looking to grow and apply the same game plan that made us the largest compliance company in the automotive world to the other industries we’re working in,” Wolfe said.
“No matter where we arrive, we’re always picturing that next level we want to achieve.”
Though employees are scattered across the U.S., they share a dedication to building deeper connections with clients and are united by KPA’s vision of bringing safer solutions into the future.
“I deeply appreciate what all 125 members of my consulting team and my nine account executives accomplish every day. Those people are the reason I stay here,” Wolfe said.
All three KPA employees Built In spoke with agree that every leader they’ve worked alongside at KPA has walked a mile in their shoes, a testament to the company’s dedication to growth and employee development. In an industry of constant change, KPA’s culture of support and continuous learning keeps their teams ahead of the curve.
“I’ve now been introduced to so many different aspects of our technical side that I’m even summoned into calls with the director of technology,” Romanini said. “In every role I’ve had, no day is the same. Anyone who’s not afraid to roll up their sleeves, take chances and jump right in will thrive at KPA.”