Iowa Network Services Inc. (INS) today announced that it has acquired Merit Resources Inc. The latter company's operations and management will remain unchanged, and clients will not see any disturbance of services, said Merit Resources CEO Joel Duncan.

The move is a "win-win-win" for the two companies and the clients they serve, said Ron Keller, president and CEO of INS, which is privately owned by a group of 122 Iowa independent telecommunications companies.

INS set a focus on diversifying its operations about five years ago, with part of the goal being to provide additional services to the telecommunications companies that own it. The acquisition of Merit made sense, Keller said, because both companies serve small to medium-sized businesses, and those businesses will need more human resources help with the coming changes coming from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

"This provides our independent telephone companies with a new service, for them to be able to reduce their costs, minimize the risk of HR-related functions, and return their focus to their core business - not unlike what other small to medium-sized businesses do," Keller said.

From Merit Resources' perspective, said Duncan, it opens up an opportunity to serve the companies that make up INS and the ability to possibly expand to help telecommunication companies in other states as well. Those companies fit into the natural profile of companies that Merit strives to reach, he said.

"This will not change any of our marketing strategy that we have today," Duncan said. "And that strategy, at the highest level, is growth. The sheer increase in momentum of employment complexity is driving a greater appetite and demand for HR outsourcing."

Merit Resources is the largest professional employment organization in the state, providing HR solutions to more than 400 clients and 11,000 worksite employees in 40 states.

Terms of the acquisition were undisclosed.