ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA
Wallace Welch & Willingham
Best Agency to Work For – Southeast
A Successful Agency Built on Family Values
Employees at Wallace Welch & Willingham (WWW), Insurance Journal‘s 2015 pick for Best Agency to Work For, Gold Winner – Southeast, don’t just consider themselves members of a successful agency in St. Petersburg, Fla., but also part of a big family. From benefits to team-building beach retreats to donating backpacks every school year to underprivileged kids, WWW employees have no doubt their agency is one of the best.
“You are treated with respect; everyone works together as a team and most of all we are like a family,” wrote one employee.
“It’s hard to call [WWW] just an agency. It’s more of a family,” said another.
But at the core of the company’s values, said survey respondents, is dedication to clients.
“We are committed to having ‘raving fan’ clients – which means we are committed to exceeding their needs. We all have an earnest investment and desire to be the best agency in the industry. We put the client’s needs first – the loyalty of our clients shows that,” said one employee.
“We’re all experts. We make teams for our clients based on their specific industry, risk, and geographic needs,” responded another. “Even our producers ask ‘How can I help?’ Not, ‘How do I get paid?’ We celebrate our client’s successes and get together to help them achieve their goals.”
That customer-centric mindset is evident in a quote featured on WWW’s website by the agency’s former owner John. I. Welch, “Take care of the customer and the dollars will follow.”
John I. Welch’s father, John P. Welch, started the agency in 1925 in St. Petersburg out of a contract with St. Paul Marine Insurance Co.
In 1984, after many acquisitions and agency partnerships, John I. Welch and William Wallace – who had also taken over his father’s agency years earlier – merged their company known at the time as the Wallace-Welch Agency with Weyman Willingham & Co.
Wallace and Welch have since retired, but the company still goes by Wallace Welch & Willingham. It offers commercial and personal insurance, as well as employee benefits. The agency’s family tradition has also carried on through the current leadership – brothers Keith and Scott Gramling, president and CEO, respectively.
WWW considers employee satisfaction a key component of its success. Scott Gramling said the executive team offers a “total package” to employees, which includes corporate values, goals, compensation, benefits, facilities, flexibility, incentives, communication, fun, leadership and ancillary corporate missions.
“Over the past 90 years, WWW has been a top shelf employer, because the leadership acknowledges that constant attention is necessary to attract and retain the highest caliber professionals,” said Scott Gramling.
“Our goal is to actually be the best place to work. We don’t do it for the awards, it’s really about the employees,” said COO Walt Grayson.
Employee events are organized throughout the year by the “Employee Action Committee.” Survey respondents raved about the company-sponsored annual beach weekend for employees and their families.
IJ survey respondents also praised WWW’s emphasis on the importance of a work/family balance.
“Family comes first, in action, not in words. I see that here every day. It’s not a slogan, it’s a way of life,” said one employee.
The company also makes significant contributions within its community.
“Every aspect of this company makes me proud,” said another employee.