Steve Hamacher and Mike Semm
Kalamazoo, Michigan

JUN 01, 2021

With every door that closes, another opens. Yes, that is cliché. The truth of the matter is that without endings, there are no new beginnings. Here is the story of the owners at Payroll Vault Kalamazoo, Michigan.


After nearly 30 years in quality and operations management for manufacturing companies in Colorado and Michigan, now co-owner Mike Semm, was released from his position as the Operations Director of a plastics company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His timely release came before the holidays in 2015 and at that time, companies weren’t eagerly hiring. 

After several months of seeking out the ideal opportunity, Steve Hamacher, threw out a few business ideas. Steve was a good friend – their kids played travel baseball together, so it was a natural development. His most intriguing idea was to start a payroll company to eliminate the need for his CPA practice from needing to provide payroll services as a courtesy to his clients. Captivated by the idea, Mike agreed to cautiously entertain the idea.


In early discussions, Steve recalled meeting Sean Manning, CEO/Founder of Payroll Vault, at a conference several years prior. Later Steve had the opportunity to speak with him about his emerging franchise opportunity – Payroll Vault. Not being an early adopter of new ideas, Steve held on to Sean’s card for future reference and presented it once the conversation began to further develop about going into business with one another. The power of the business card is miraculous at times. 


Mike was initially skeptical about the franchise aspect because his wife and he had an unfortunate experience with a cookie franchise that she had bought into earlier on. After multiple phone conversations between Steve, Mike, and Sean, they realized what magnificent potential this opportunity afforded them.


After taking the time to diligently define a territory, Steve, and Mike came to an agreement to support their local business and professional community - the Western Michigan region with a home base in Kalamzaoo. In April 2016 they signed their franchise agreement and officially opened their doors in August 2016.  

Fast forward to 2021 with one pandemic in their wake and a renewed 5-year franchise agreement, the experience with Payroll Vault has exceeded both of their expectations. In retrospect, each have appreciated the fortuitous timing of their launch.


While the global pandemic took a toll on the workforce locally and rippled throughout the nation, Mike and Steve are currently in the process of filling and upgrading their vacant payroll processor position. The position was originally part-time, but their growth denotes a need for a full-time team member. Whether it is a full-time or two part-time processors, it will allow a stronger focus on building a strong, responsive client base to increase their valuable reach into their community. The next five years will be tailored toward growth and adding employment opportunities. 

While the initial launch of Payroll Vault began with a closing of a door, Steve and Mike have been able to create beginnings within challenges and beginnings within beginnings. The sky’s not the limit, it’s the beginning.


As longtime friends, Mike and Steve share similar hobbies. Outside of their fierce dedication to their business, they are both committed to spending time their families camping, going golfing, and trying craft brews in Michigan’s tasty microbreweries.