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Lawson Horton – Vital Records Control

Recording a new digital future for human resources

Lawson Horton has worked for Vital Records Control for 25 years, but he didn’t experience his biggest challenge until 2017. 

That’s when VRC, which manages and stores paper and electronic files and data for businesses and provides IT consulting services, was acquired by a private equity group.  

Lawson Horton | Senior Vice President of Human Resources | Vital Records Control

Lawson Horton | Senior Vice President of Human Resources | Vital Records Control

As senior vice president of human resources, Horton watched as the Memphis, Tennessee-based business purchased over 100 companies over the next five years, ballooning from 300 employees across five states to over 1,800 across 40 states. 

Just tracking the new hires was a massive and laborious process, Horton says. Initially, he and his team would manually enter their information, which included checking that the individual had completed state and federal tax forms. This process could take hours or even a week—for each employee. In 2022, Horton finally got a chance to make that process easier with a new electronic onboarding program.     

“It was something that was on my mind for years, but changes like this take time,” Horton says. “It was well worth the wait.” 

Digitizing on the job  

Horton and his team started implementing the new electronic onboarding system, made by Paychex Inc., in March 2022 and completed the project in July that year. 

Now, instead of having to hand or mail papers to new hires, someone on the human resources team sends a link via email. The link takes the individual to a secure site that asks questions and uses the answers to populate required onboarding forms.  

According to Horton, this doesn’t just save thousands of dollars on labor and material costs, but it also eliminates paper waste and potential human error. The digital system won’t accidentally enter a wrong home address or phone number, and it alerts human resources if a document like the I-9 form is missing. It also allows e-signatures, saving new employees a trip to the office. 

“This new platform streamlines the entire new employee onboarding process, eliminating redundancies, errors and costs,” Horton says. “This allows VRC to present itself to new employees with a much higher level of confidence and competence, further increasing its marketplace branding presentation.” 

In 2023, he and his team plan to introduce a new human resources information system, for which he’s currently taking bids from different vendors. Once implemented, the new platform will store information from the onboarding system, like bank account numbers, and, with just a few clicks, activate payroll and benefits for new employees. 

Horton says this new system will also eliminate the need for several different platforms to perform multiple tasks, such as background screenings, drug tests and benefit enrollments.   

Taking a byte forward daily  

Of course, Horton and his team can’t handle everything, no matter how much technology they use.  

A particular impediment, he says, has been conducting a background check of every employee the company hires. It had been particularly time consuming because VRC had used multiple vendors to conduct the checks, but he and his team recently helped pare those vendors to just one. 

Now, when VRC needs to vet an applicant, an employee from Horton’s department submits an e-mail link through a single portal to the applicant. The resulting background check pulls information on credit history, as well as motor vehicle records and drug screenings.  

Horton adds that he has been growing right alongside the company. In fact, he was first hired as a general manager in 1997 and didn’t move into a human resources and administration role until 2008.  

“I had no experience in HR, so I took it upon myself to grow my skills and my career,” says Horton, who graduated from Memphis State University with his master’s in business administration in 1985. 

He also received certifications as a Professional in Human Resources and Senior Professional in Human Resources from the Human Resource Certification Institute in 2018 and 2020. He says that by continuing to automate processes, he can keep his team small and cost effective. With all the improvements, he estimates he’s saved approximately $150 thousand and eight thousand work hours each year. 

“VRC has grown considerably in the last few years—it is now the second largest records management company in the U.S.,” Horton says. “As we continue expanding, I’m glad to see that my efforts and my plans for the future of human resources are helping VRC and its clients achieve their goals.” 

View this feature in the Vol. III 2023 Edition here.

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