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Invest in employees, diversify to meet the shifting landscape

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CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Douglas Gibbons, president of Miers Insurance, in foreground. In the back, from left, are staff members Ryan Amey, Gretchen Tonno, Jeffrey Barr, Rocky Gencarelli and Kenneth Serfass.
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Douglas Gibbons, president of Miers Insurance, in foreground. In the back, from left, are staff members Ryan Amey, Gretchen Tonno, Jeffrey Barr, Rocky Gencarelli and Kenneth Serfass.

In 1892, you might have needed insurance to protect livestock, the family farm and barns or a horse-drawn buggy.

Over the past 125 years, Miers Insurance has provided peace of mind for personal, commercial and international insurance customers. The company has endured in an evolving world stage while maintaining its independent ownership, flexible product offerings and commitment to service.

As insurance, technology and commerce changes, so must companies that wish to thrive and remain independent, said Douglas Gibbons, Miers Insurance president and CEO.

“The way we do business brought to the Lehigh Valley the ability to handle 99 percent of anyone’s insurance needs,” said Gibbons, whose company this year celebrates its 125th birthday.

DIVERSIFICATION, CULTIVATION

Gibbons said a top challenge the insurance industry faces today is not having a business perpetuation plan to ensure stability and continuity.

Another big challenge is failing to diversify, added Gibbons, who joined Miers Insurance in 2005.

He said diversification – not just products but people – puts companies in a position to grow. If it does not diversify, its offerings can shrink.

He said having expertise and knowing where to find it – such as cultivating business partnerships and relationships – have been keys to Miers Insurance’s growth and success.

INVESTED EMPLOYEES

While no longer helmed by the Miers family, the company remains successfully independent because employees are invested, Gibbons said.

The firm is employee-owned through a stock ownership plan. And employees represent just about every demographic, from millennials (age 28) to older baby boomers (age 66).

“They were good about ways to keep the business family and later employee-sponsored because of the investment in the stability of the firm,” Gibbons said.

HOW PEOPLE SEEK TO DO BUSINESS

Gibbons said many longtime employees continue to work at the firm, but bringing in fresh, young talent keeps the company viable and relevant in a changing business landscape.

“We have [multiple] generations working here who can relate to and [conduct] various ways to doing business,” he said.

From text messaging and phone calls to email updates and face-to-face meetings, Miers Insurance staff works with customers using up-to-date communication tools and adjusting to each customer’s preferred method of keeping in touch.

“We have to adjust to how people want to do business,” Gibbons said.

COMMITMENT TO DOWNTOWN

The firm’s collaborative approach builds long-term customer relationships as much as it retains long-term employees.

“Their diverse staff knowledge base really helps us … and they’ve found some unique solutions for us,” said Tom Pecuch, controller at Precision Roll Grinders in Upper Macungie Township.

State Rep. Peter Schweyer said Miers Insurance’s location is a longtime investment in downtown Allentown and a testament to its longevity and commitment to the city.

“When we talk about pillars of the community – like PPL or Sacred Heart [Hospital], we have to look at those small businesses like Miers,” Schweyer said.

ALLY OF SMALL BUSINESSES

Stuart Cattell, president and CEO of Gerhart Scale Corp. in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, said Miers Insurance was a good fit for his insurance needs because Gerhart conducts business internationally, too.

“They serve several companies we are looking to do business with,” Cattell said. “For small businesses like us, it’s good to deal with partners such as Miers.”

Schweyer noted that business-to-business commerce was a strong indicator of the Lehigh Valley’s continued growth.

“Those secondary businesses directly responsible for serving other businesses” are an indicator of the economic health and business climate in the Valley, he said.

POTENTIAL GROWTH AREAS

Founded on leap day in 1892, Miers Insurance aimed to exceed customer expectations from the start.

As time went on, the company added products that customers needed in their work or personal lives, such as group medical or life insurance in the 1970s.

Today’s growing health care facilities markets, where stand-alone MRI and treatment centers are becoming more plentiful, could represent business growth areas, Gibbons said.

“Health [care] insurance continues to be the fastest-growing area,” he said. “We don’t know where group medical insurance is heading, so we’ll have to see.”

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