SIOUX FALLS, S.D. • Carol Rademacher, whose husband owned a typewriter business in the 1980s, had an idea: Why not branch off of that with a time and attendance management company?

The seed was planted for what today is called Time Management Systems, or TMS.

It started in 1985, and now 36 years later the company, thanks to technology and an innovative leadership team, looks different than it did more than three decades ago.

Back then it offered time clocks to businesses that employees used to keep track of their time at work. They’d “punch” in and out.

While TMS still offers that tool for companies who want them, it also offers a wide variety of other tools to help companies and their employees manage time and attendance and to keep track of their benefits. It also offers security options and, something new since the coronavirus pandemic, a new way to tell if employees are ill before clocking into work.

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The female-led company, headquartered in Sioux City, Iowa, is today owned by Rademacher’s daughters, CEO Mindy Kroll and CFO Jen Vanderloo. It has four offices, including one in Sioux Falls, S.D., and over the years it has acquired other companies, growing its footprint and services, including one it had acquired in 2008 called Time Management Systems in Florida. It kept the name and kept growing from there, said Ashley Pugh, the company’s marketing coordinator.

Before the acquisition, Rademacher’s company was called Midwest Office Automations.

The company sells its software products to businesses all over the country, but its primary clients are in the Midwest, including the Dakotas and Minnesota. Pugh said there are a number of clients in North Dakota alone, and it seems to be a growing market.

“We kind of have a niche in school districts and health care, but our software can work for anybody,” she said.

Clients are small businesses with few employees to large companies with many. The software can be coded to fit the needs and requests of any business partner.

“We've noticed a trend with school districts and health care facilities, such as nursing homes and assisted living centers. Hospitals tend to like our software because, like I said, we have that ability to code it specifically for them.”

Being a software and tech company, it was natural for TMS to smoothly transition to remote work during the pandemic. Pugh said team members took to the changes with ease, but are now starting to come back into the offices.

“Obviously (in some cases) you might not be as productive working from home, but overall, and I hate to say it when other businesses have struggled,” she said, “but we actually had a very good year last year as far as sales.”

One of the tools that helped was the company’s new biometric clock it developed over the past year. Many companies that were using the old hand-clock way of punching in and out didn’t want their employees touching a high-use item like a manual time clock that some companies still use.

“They don't want people touching things and spreading germs, but want to try to mitigate that stuff,” she said. The solution: a work clock that reads employees’ faces and takes their temperature at the same time it punches them in for work.

“I know there's a lot of those out there, where businesses set temperature readings up in their lobby, but what we were able to do is take one of those clocks that you can stand in front of and have it read your temperature and also punch you in for work at the same time.”

TMS also has partnered with another company, called Clair, to offer a new benefit that lets employees access their pay even before they receive their paycheck -- a sort of advance on what they will be paid during that pay period.

Pugh said the business that started with just a time clock is much different today, but just as focused on employee and business success as it was when it first started in mid-1980s America.

Something else that is different: there is a lot more competition today. That’s where Pugh is most pleased with TMS; she believes it has unique services and a focus on local.

Pugh said she and her colleagues, including the owners, are most proud of that local focus even as the company continues to grow.

“We like to say we're national in scope, but we are really focused on local support,” she said. “We kind of have that down-home, family-run business feeling.”

Andrew Weeks may be reached at 701-780-1276 or aweeks AT prairiebusiness.com.