Our Mission: Not Your Typical PEO

No business is the same, and yet the majority of PEOs provide a one-size-fits-all solution.

CalmHR isn’t today’s PEO, and we’re certainly not yesterday’s PEO. We offer a reimagined service focused on providing a personalized, consultative relationship with your organization—understanding that your business and its needs are unique.

We started CalmHR because we believe businesses shouldn’t be forced to accept the same old mold from their PEO. With CalmHR, you don’t fit our mold because we don’t have one. We give you the latitude to decide what mold fits you best, and then we design a full suite of custom services to relieve the day-to-day stress of business operations.


Joe Appelbaum, CEO and Founder

Joe founded Potomac Insurance in 1990 with one guiding principle: to build relationships with clients, to exceed their expectations by providing exemplary service, support, and expertise, and to become the comprehensive source for clients’ employee benefits needs. He has been an insurance practitioner for over 35 years and his experience in and knowledge of the employee benefits industry affords clients a unique and innovative approach to employee benefit selection. Joe is a subject matter expert on controlling healthcare costs, PPACA (healthcare reform), and HR issues. He speaks frequently at various trade association conferences and SHRM functions across the country. Joe is the thought leader, advisor, and chief analytics officer for all his clients.

Joe is a lifelong entrepreneur and started his first business at the age of 13 in Manalapan, New Jersey. He is an active member of the Association for Enterprise Growth (AEG) and is a founding sponsor of Executive Leaders Radio. Joe enjoys helping other CEOs and local business owners connect and collaborate with fellow leaders, and is a longtime philanthropist for the Brain Tumor Society and Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Joe attended Carnegie Mellon University and graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics. He resides in Rockville, MD with his wife and children.

Walt Ziffer, AIF®, CPFA, CBC, CHSA, NQPA

Walt Ziffer currently serves as Senior Vice President of Retirement + Wealth at OneDigital. Walt is the Founder of (k)RPG & KRPG Advisors based out of Gaithersburg, MD which was acquired by OneDigital in February 2023. As a 32-year veteran of the financial services industry, he has been dedicated to assisting families, individuals, and retirement plan participants in their quest to achieve financial independence.

His firms provide ERISA 3(21) & 3(38) investment fiduciary services and consulting services for retirement plan sponsors (i.e., 401(k), 403(b), Defined Benefit Plans, and Cash Balance Plans), foundations, and private trusts and fee-based wealth management and financial planning services for individuals and families. Prior to starting (k)RPG, LLC in 2004, Walt was a member of the management team at New England Securities’ Washington, DC office.

Walt routinely serves as a guest speaker and focus group member for various financial services firms and is a current member of the Advisory Council for Morningstar Investment Services and the Vanguard Research Community. Walt has been quoted in several professional publications and has served as an expert witness & consultant regarding financial matters in a range of legal cases.

Walt holds the FINRA Series 6, 63, & 65 securities registrations and the following designations and certificates:

  • AIF – Accredited Investment Fiduciary®
  • CPFA – Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor
  • CBC – Cash Balance Consultant
  • CHSA – Certified Health Savings Advisor®
  • NQPA – Non-Qualified Plan Advisor

In 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, & 2022 Walt was named a Five Star Wealth Manager in the Washington, DC area.

Walt graduated from Virginia Tech and currently resides in Darnestown, MD with his wife Deborah and his two children, Julia and Trevor. A car enthusiast, he is the founder of Potomac Cars & Coffee and a member of the Porsche Club of America, the McLaren Automobile Club, and the Capital Auto Club. He has a strong passion for family, and when he is not working, he can be found at a VT Football game, a horse show, or a car show.

Investment advice offered through OneDigital Investment Advisors LLC, an SEC-registered investment advisor and wholly owned subsidiary of OneDigital, or through KRPG Advisors, LLC, a registered investment advisor.  OneDigital and OneDigital Investment Advisors LLC are separate entities from KRPG Advisors, LLC.



We’re a Company Rooted in Principles

But these aren’t simply what we think look or sound good. These are the values that guide us.


We believe there is nothing to gain from confusing and hard-to-navigate systems. A cornerstone of success to us is ensuring our clients understand every element of their customized programs.


We pride ourselves on timely and efficient communication, understanding your problems and concerns deserve quick answers. Day or night we’re here for you.


When it comes to HR, there’s no time to beat around the bush. It’s critical you’re provided with honest and straight-forward communication about your program. We take our work seriously and we work hard to make sure you understand that.


There’s no “us and them” mentality here. When you partner with CalmHR, you become part of our team. And team success is what drives us everyday. This means you can expect genuine collaboration from us towards our common goal.


Because we offer a range of completely customized services, we understand we always have to keep evolving. Continuous education is part of the job description—and we extend this knowledge to our clients with the goal of empowering the whole team.


Plain and simple: you’re a bad HR company if you’re not available for support. And we’re not a bad HR company. With CalmHR, you never have to guess about our availability or willingness to pick up the phone. All you need to do is reach out.


For 35 years, we’ve managed a successful business model based on the premise that there’s always a simpler path. When it comes to HR, simplicity is usually marketed as comprehensiveness. But the reality is that it almost always means higher cost and greater inefficiency.


CalmHR is committed to creating a work culture of inclusion and diversity for itself and its clients. We believe that a work environment that is safe and respectful of all individuals is key, and people must feel accepted, respected, and valued in order to bring out the best in them.

We Believe in Keeping Things Simple

You are the front line—but you are not alone. No one can know and manage your company’s unique challenges like you can, and we are here to help.

KISS - Keep It Simple Solution™ Includes

CalmHR provides and manages an employee self-service benefits management portal through our KISS - Keep It Simple Solution™ concept.

This solution is more comprehensive than a mere self-service portal, as it includes all aspects of HCM.


  • Payroll
  • HR & Benefits
  • ACA Reporting
  • Performance Review
  • Applicant Tracking/Recruitment
  • Time and Attendance
  • Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)
  • 401(k) Platform
  • One Point of Entry
  • Employee Onboarding
  • Open Enrollment
  • Benefits Education
  • Total Compensation Statements