Past Times – Specializing in Service
Story by Lauren Sable Freiman | Apr 26, 2018
Photography by Keith Borgmeyer
Winter-Dent and Company is proud to be locally and employee-owned.
A lot has changed since 1912, when the McKenna and Steiniger Insurance Agency first opened its doors in Jefferson City. Now known as Winter-Dent and Company, the agency has changed hands, changed names, and changed locations several times over the years. But some basic business values haven’t changed at all.
“Winter-Dent is much larger and more sophisticated than it would have been in 1912, and the industry requires that. But in terms of its reputation for honesty and advocating for its valued clients, the approach today is much the same as it would have been in 1912,” says Louis Landwehr, CEO of Winter-Dent. “Business is, has been, and always will be first and foremost about people and trust. Good people equals good business.”
Over the years, Winter-Dent has steadily grown its team of employees, its service offerings, and its service area. Today, it is a large regional insurance agency with 55 employees across offices in both Jefferson City and Columbia. With specialized service units focusing on Insurance and risk, bonds, employee benefits, and financial services, Winter-Dent services clients in Central Missouri, throughout the United States, and around the world.
“In the early 1990s, the agency began organizing around specialized service units,” Landwehr says. “Service teams would not try to be all things to all people or jacks of all trades, if you will, but rather would focus on a specific area of insurance. This specialized service structure was unique to Central Missouri and allowed a much higher level of expertise to be brought to the client in each individual area of specialization.”
Winter-Dent also grew their offerings, and in addition to insurance procurement services, the agency began providing risk management support like in-house loss control, compliance, and safety services. Once employees became specialized in a product line, they would focus their attention on a specific industry niche like construction, agribusiness, or transportation.
According to Landwehr, this unique, specialized service model supported rapid growth in the 1990s, leading to the opening of a Columbia office and acquisition of several smaller insurance agencies that were drawn to the cutting-edge infrastructure.
“While Winter-Dent always had clientele in Columbia before opening there, becoming a truly local business in the Columbia community led to a local presence there that further contributed to growth in clientele and employees in that community as well,” Landwehr says.
As the agency continues to grow throughout Central Missouri and beyond, much of their success is due to referrals from happy clients, which have helped to steadily grow its customer base.
“Much of Winter-Dent’s retention of clients and growing of the customer base is due to the trust people put in us,” says Jim Neuner, Winter-Dent’s president and director of sales. “If you do a good job for someone and provide them with a level of expertise and professionalism, they appreciate that and will not hesitate to recommend Winter-Dent to others.”
In order to ensure a future that is focused on strong relationships and customer service, Winter-Dent became employee-owned on February 5, 2018.
“Becoming 100 percent employee-owned keeps Winter-Dent as a viable locally-owned agency,” Neuner says. “While competitors in the state have sold to out-of-town private equity firms, we felt it important to continue as a locally-owned company. Now more than ever, each employee has a vested interest in the success of Winter-Dent.”
In addition to maintaining advanced professional degrees in their field of specialty, Winter-Dent’s employees constantly grow their professional knowledge through continuing education. This dedication to being among the most knowledgeable in the field has led to a level of client satisfaction and loyalty that sets Winter-Dent apart from their competition. Winter-Dent’s service team is also committed to making a difference in their community.
“The employees are not only active within their own churches and schools, but they volunteer and serve on many local boards and supported organizations such as the United Way, Helias Foundation, March of Dimes, and others,” Neuner says. “It is important to be involved within the communities that support our business.”
While the agency expects continued expansion in the years to come, one constant from 1912 will always remain: Winter-Dent will continue to serve clients with the highest level of expertise and service as an independent and locally-owned business.