Part of the Community
Founded in Mt. Pleasant in 1916, Auto-Owners moved its headquarters to Lansing in 1917 and has called the city its home for the past 94 years. Recognized for its exceptional financial strength and stability among the nation’s largest insurers, the company, which operates in 26 states, mostly in the Midwest, is comprised of five property and casualty companies and one life insurer. Among numerous recognitions and awards Auto-Owners has also been given an A Double Plus rating, the highest rating possible by A.M. Best, a worldwide insurance-rating and information agency.
With great success comes great responsibility, and Auto-Owners is one of the community’s greatest contributors when it comes to social responsibility. Working with local organizations, programs and charities, the company makes endless efforts to do its part in bettering the mid-Michigan area.
“This is our home, our employees [and] their families live here. They are part of the community,” Jeff Harrold, Auto-Owners CEO, says. “You want the community to be active and vibrant and expanding, so we want to be an active part of that community in many ways.”
And many ways they are, as numerous Auto-Owners employees participate in a variety of community-improving organizations and events, including the March of Dimes, Junior Achievement, Habitat for Humanity, the Boy Scouts, Red Cross, the Wharton Center for Performing Arts, Impression 5 Science Center and more. Over the years the company has opened its doors to support such fundraisers as the Lansing State Journal’s Old Newsboys, which sells “spoof editions” in order to provide shoes and boots to needy children in the area, and Coaches vs. Cancer, where a $5 donation allows participants to wear sneakers to work while their dollars help to support the mission to eliminate cancer as a life-threatening disease. The company has partnered with WLNS-TV 6 for the Day of Giving, accepting donations to feed the hungry in our community.
“We have 1,800 [employees] in the Lansing area. We want an environment that is safe and secure, and to make life better where we can,” Harrold says. “Through participation in some of these programs or fundraisers are enriching the lives of not only our associates but also their families and other citizens in the community who will benefit from involvement.”
The extent of Auto-Owners’ involvement spans from sponsorships, volunteerism, advertising, even board seats, as many of the company’s senior officers are board members for local organizations and charities. These various levels of participation help keep Auto-Owners involved in the community while allowing the company to receive firsthand event information that in turn gauges the degree in which Auto-Owners will participate.
“You have to be careful that you don’t do too much,” Harrold explains. “It can create a bit of pressure. While we want to support the causes we don’t want to create pressure in the workplace.”
Carefully evaluating all requests when deciding which organizations and events to support, Auto-Owners strives to choose those that are designed to meet a large percentage of the population. For instance, the company supports the area’s major hospitals with fundraisers, provides financial contributions to the YMCA to assist with outreach, and annually gathers a team of employees to participate in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Auto-Owners is also heavily involved in the United Way, having participated in the organization for more than 30 years.
“Whether it is in Florida or Michigan or Minnesota … United Way touches so many different organizations that we strongly encourage involvement,” Harrold explains.
Recognizing the various social needs within the Lansing area and repeatedly taking on roles of responsibility to help improve the community are unique characteristics that have helped make Auto-Owners the exceptional company it is today.“I think that it is important that the associates of Auto-Owners know that we are good community citizens, good corporate citizens, and want to give back to the community that has helped make us successful,” Harrold says. “It’s the right thing to do.”
Jeff Harrold, CEO
6101 Anacapri Blvd.