When Cameron Gartley accepted a position as a personal lines account executive at Allen Insurance and Financial in 2016, he wasn’t focused on the company’s employee-ownership structure. A recent college graduate, he was just happy to have a job. “Even after my onboarding, it didn’t register how that structure might benefit me long-term,” he says.
It sank in a year later, when the company went from being 33 to 100 percent employee-owned. “Now, it’s one of the things we talk about most with our clients and potential future co-owners,” Gartley says. “When you are one of a very small number of employee-owned businesses in your field, 100 percent or otherwise, that sets you apart.”
As employee owners, Allen Insurance and Financial team members benefit long-term from the company’s success. “It can provide a very nice retirement nest egg if you stay with the agency,” says Kathi Jones, who started as a receptionist 36 years ago and now works in HR. Jones also appreciates the culture she and her co-owners have created. An Employee Stock Ownership Plan, or ESOP, culture committee is charged with bolstering employee satisfaction. Its subcommittees are focused on wellness, volunteerism, and going green. As a result of their efforts, Allen Insurance and Financial was named the 2023 Employee-Owned Company of the Year by the New England Chapter of The ESOP Association.
“All of the hard-working employee-owners on our subcommittees voluntarily contribute their time to offer additional tangible benefits and opportunities for everyone here,” says Kimberly Edgar, chairperson of the ESOP Culture Committee. The committee also promotes communication between employees and management through transparency around financials, hiring decisions, charitable giving, and plans for company growth in the long-term.
Greg Karlik, a member of Allen’s benefits team, spent close to 30 years working in media before entering the insurance field. “Those organizations were very hierarchy driven,” he says. “Over the years, I came to lament the dynamic that created.” At Allen Insurance and Financial, the employee-owners have created a workplace where collaboration is valued over climbing the corporate ladder. “As a result, all of our energy is directed towards our clients and our customers,” he says.
The company encourages professional development and pays for employees’ continuing education. This allowed Gartley to move to the agency’s business insurance division, where he’s now part of the craft-beverage team, which he believes has an edge over other insurance agencies working in the niche market. “Operating as an ESOP definitely moves the needle for folks,” he says. “Clients consider who they want to have behind them when something goes wrong. They could have company owners there to help the very next day.”
It only stands to reason that Allen Insurance and Financial serves its clients better because its employees own the outcomes of their work and value the trust the founding owners put in their hands. “I’m not working for a big board of directors at a Fortune 500 company,” Gartley says. “I’m working for the co-owner sitting next to me, and the people we see on a daily basis. That helps us feel empowered to do the best work we can do.”
To learn how Allen Insurance and Financial can work for you, for insurance or for financial planning, visit allenif.com. 800-439-4311.