“Everyone has a voice at the table, and everyone is respected.”
That employee comment may best sum up the feelings of the workforce at San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based Morris & Garritano.
Giving employees a voice makes them feel heard, but benefits like work-life flexibility, fair compensation and room for growth, are attributes that earned the firm the gratitude of numerous employees who voted it the Best Agency to Work For – Gold award for the West region in Insurance Journal’s annual survey.
The 133-year-old independent agency, which employs 123 and had a reported revenue of $18.5 million in 2017, scored among the top agencies.
“Morris & Garritano is like my second family. We are true to our mission statement and we live our core values daily. We work hard and play hard,” wrote one employee.
Another wrote: “Morris & Garritano is a very hard-working, smart and fun community. From the top to the newest employee, everyone here is aware of the culture and strives to live it every day. Our leadership understands that the most valuable part of the company is the employees. If you treat your employees well and acknowledge their contributions, then they will always work to better the organization.”
CEO Brendan Morris, the third generation of Morris’s to lead the firm, stressed the importance of instilling values like respect and camaraderie over tossing out motivational catchphrases to employees.
“We really wanted to make it simple and live by our core values,” Morris said. “Having a good culture has been like a buzz word you heard for a long time, but it’s not just words here.”
One of the firm’s values is passion.
“Whether it’s passion for our clients, passion for our employees, passion for building relationships, we really have that,” he said. “We’re passionate about remaning independent, passionate about creating opportunities, about having fun, about learning.”
Morris & Garritano has offices in San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria, with producers in Santa Cruz and Fresno. The firm was founded in 1885 by Archibald McAlister in San Luis Obispo as Lands, Loans, Rents & Insurance. McAlister later became mayor of the city.
In 1948, Brendan’s grandfather, Harry Morris, who worked for The Hartford, came to the firm. His father, Greg, who also worked for The Hartford, came to the firm in 1964 and worked there for 50 years.
Brendan, who earned a degree in finance from Santa Clara University, joined the firm in 1994. His sister Kerry, who is now COO, joined in early 2002.
Morris said the firm has grown organically and through acquisitions, with two agency acquisitions and two producer acquisitions in the past four years.
One employee summed up his feelings about the firm, saying the culture allows employees to have strong growth goals along with a fun work environment.
“The agency provides support to allow individuals opportunities to work remotely and provides flexible work schedules along with strong benefits packages,” the employee wrote. “Additionally, the growth of the agency has brought a diversity of employees from different demographics together.”
Another wrote that Morris & Garritano takes care of employees, which fosters an atmosphere of happiness.
“People are unusually happy all the time and pass that positivity to our clients,” the employee wrote. “The culture around the office is upbeat and professional. It’s easy to do a good job when it is rare that someone in our area hasn’t heard of the agency. Most of the people I talk to tell me their parents or grandparents had their insurance with us, and it was only natural for them to give us a call. I have 100 percent faith that we provide superior coverage and service to every client. Prior to working here, I never would have imagined that a commercial insurance job could be so fun. I am proud to tell people where I work!”
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