Best Midwest Agency to Work For: R.H. Wine & Co.

By | September 30, 2010

A few years back, R.H. Wine & Co., the parent corporation of Wine Sergi Insurance, had become big enough that some thought it might become a takeover target. Management worried that having that prospect hanging over their heads might demoralize the employees. And so, the company initiated an employee stock option plan so the company could become employee-owned and the employees could be sure that nothing was going to happen to the company without their input.

“They were going to take the entire work family as a whole and include them in any decisions,” said Adam Hackman, an account executive at the company. That inclusion of the employees created a “culture of caring,” where people work hard because they have a sense of ownership.

Wine Sergi Insurance, of St. Charles, Ill., was named a 2010 Best Agency to Work For, Midwest region, by Insurance Journal. In the surveys employees of Wine Sergi sent in to Insurance Journal nominating their company, they mentioned as benefits of working for Wine Sergi everything from the fact that there is the stock option plan to the fitness facilities in the company building.

One employee said: “Our management is very open-minded, accommodating to the employees and they treat us like family.”

Another said: “Wine Sergi is employee-owned and, as a result, everyone is pulling on the same end of the string, working toward the same goals.”

R.H. Wine & Co. was founded in 1924 in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, the home town of Ernest Hemingway and the town where Frank Lloyd Wright had his home and studio in the early part of his career. In 1990, the company moved to St. Charles, Ill., a quaint little town on the Fox River in the far flung suburbs of Chicago.

In 1997, Jeff Wine, grandson of the founder, Dan Sergi and Gregg Peterson bought the business and formed what is now Wine Sergi Insurance. The company has 95 employees, 30 of whom are in retail insurance, and it represents 50 insurance carriers. It is largely a business insurance firm, but they offer personal life, automobile, and health insurance too. Most of Wine Sergi’s business is located in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana. But, it has accounts everywhere from Missouri to Texas to overseas.

Hackman said the company’s strength is that it is “niche specific.” He said it is a generalist agency that has a number of agents with expertise for particular types of businesses and institutions. That includes expertise in medical malpractice, expertise in insurance for financial companies and expertise for foundations and private schools. The company recently began offering financial services, as well.


Overall: Barney & Barney, San Diego, California

East: KMRD Partners, Warrington, Pennsylvania

South Central: Bryan Insurance Agency, Graham, Texas

Southeast: Seitlin Group, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

West: Chapman & Associates, Pasadena, California

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