Employees Value Strong Community Way of Thinking, Working at Greater Insurance

November 6, 2023 by

Sherri Gjermo, CEO of Greater Insurance Service Inc., is the second generation of leadership in the family business. And the third generation is already waiting in the wings.

Founded in 1974, the Madison, Wisconsin-based agency was built on a philosophy of responsive, innovative customer service and a sense of camaraderie in the workplace, Gjermo said. Those values helped the agency earn the Bronze Regional Award for the Midwest region in Insurance Journal’s annual Best Agencies to Work For competition.

Gjermo joined her father’s agency after working as a flight attendant until 9/11. The attacks drove her to pursue a new career path.

“At that time, my father welcomed me into the family business, and I never looked back,” Gjermo said. Her father, Richard Grams, CEO and founder, unexpectedly died of COVID three years ago.

“His leadership and mentorship put me in the position to lead the organization,” Gjermo said. Her daughter recently started with G.I.S. and will continue as the third-generation leader. “My succession plan is in place to carry on his legacy.”

Gjermo takes pride in the agency’s ability to provide the resources, education, and camaraderie needed to allow its team to take ownership of their work. She leads by example and encourages her team members to lead as well.

“Empower the workplace,” she advises other agency owners. “It allows you to capitalize on the team’s talent, validates their contributions and assists them in feeling more invested.”

Employees, too, appreciate the path set forth by Gjermo and her father. One nominating employee cited the agency’s unified efforts as one of its most valuable attributes.

“This legacy continues because of the longevity of the employees and agents around the state of Wisconsin who have continued to make this a successful business,” wrote another nominating employee. “Additionally, ALL employees are treated like family and are fortunate to be provided with flexibility, benefits and most of all, kindness and appreciation for the work they do each and every day.”

Another wrote, “We are a family-owned business and valued by our peers. We all work well together and are able to do so much very efficiently by utilizing the many talents of our employees. We have an amazing atmosphere and strong community-based way of thinking and working.”

One testament to the agency’s successful team building is that employees stick around and new potential employees are easy to recruite.

Longevity of employees is an important part of having a successful business, Gjermo said.

“Many employees have been with G.I.S. for over 30 years,” Gjermo said. “Our employees are the core of the organization.” She says a key part of the agency’s success is that employees feel empowered to exhaust their talent and expertise thereby minimizing feelings of micromanaging.

One nominating employee wrote, “I have been working for the agency for the past 35 years, and I am very happy with the operations of the company.”

Another said, “It’s hard for

‘experienced’ employees to feel valued. At G.I.S., they value our experience. All ages work together to grow our agency.”

The agency draws talent because of its stellar reputation in the industry and with its customers, wrote a nominating employee.

“They’ve heard what a great company that we have and that goes from the owner to management to the agents to the customer service reps — all together this makes an amazing organization to work for,” they wrote. “I will retire working for this company.”