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From left: Kevin Robbins, Karen Shannon, Richard Ollis and John Akers
Katelyn Egger | SBJ
From left: Kevin Robbins, Karen Shannon, Richard Ollis and John Akers

2023 Economic Impact Awards 75+ Years in Business: Ollis/Akers/Arney

Combining Forces

Posted online

From a startup independent insurance agency to one of the area’s largest firms, Ollis/Akers/Arney has made several business altering moves that have widened their economic footprint.

CEO Richard Ollis says he traces some major changes back to 2008, when the company became 100% employee owned. Since then, additional growth came when the company, named Ollis & Co. at the time, joined forces with the Akers & Arney team in 2015, and then the acquisition of The Paul Long Agency in 2018.

“Those three items really catapulted us forward,” Ollis says. “Frankly, we over doubled in size during that time and then expanded our market territory too.”

With that growth, Ollis/Akers/Arney now has $159 million in managed premiums and 64 employees.

But, even with how large they’ve grown, Ollis says the company has stuck to its roots of helping the client through the insurance process, whether that’s what policy fits their needs best or working through a complicated claim. He says having a claims department that goes to bat for customers with insurance carriers is something the firm’s employee-owners are proud of.

“Having a department that makes sure, No. 1, that (clients) get fair and equitable payment, but No. 2, and as importantly, walking them through the claims process because it can be a little bit daunting when you’re trying to put your business or your house or your family or your life back together,” Ollis says. “It really is one of those times where you’re part counselor, you’re part business adviser, you’re even part therapist, in trying to help someone regain control of their business or family or life.”

Ollis says the company offers employee benefits and focuses on developing a good employee culture inside the office. One of the key factors that changed everything for their employees, and has stimulated growth, he says, was providing equity ownership.

He says the growth-changing merger with Akers & Arney and the acquisition of Paul Long’s agency really had to do with the other companies desiring to be part of an employee-owned firm.

“Everyone in our company has an equity stake in the company. I think it really begins there. We’ve had a lot of organic growth, and people joining our company,” he says. “In today’s type of labor market, we’ve still been able to attract a high level of talent to our company.”

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