CFR Inc. Makes Insurance Sales Fun for Employees

Tulsa-based insurance placement and risk management consulting firm CFR Inc. wrote 36.66 percent more property and casualty premiums in 2007 than it did in 2006.
Much of the credit for the firm’s growth seems to go to the fact that it is a fun place to work.
“We are having some phenomenal growth,” said Michelle Rakes, vice president of operations, for the 73-year-old agency.
CFR wrote property and casualty premiums of $125.5 million in 2007, placing the firm at No. 75 on the Insurance Journal’s Top 100 Property Casualty Independent Agencies for 2008. That was a jump of 15 slots from last year, when CFR was ranked No. 90 on the list with premiums of $91.8 million.
“We keep doing the right things and our business continues to grow,” Rakes said. “As far as insurance, we sell a product that a lot of other companies sell. The only thing that sets us apart is our service. That’s what it all boils down to. If we don’t do that well, we are just like anybody else.”
CFR was also this year named the top small company to work for in the state of Oklahoma by OKCBusiness.
“We’ve tried to create a corporate culture that inspires employees to achieve maximum potential, both professionally and personally,” said Jack Allen Jr., CFR chairman.
The selection process for the Best Places to Work award included an extensive survey and questionnaire to employees, which collected information about each company’s policies, practices and demographics. Results are used by ModernThink to produce the rankings of participating companies.
Among the exceptional employee benefits cited for CFR are: An on-site fitness facility, regular 20-minute office massages, monthly bonuses based on revenue growth for all staff and providing employees every other Friday afternoon off during the summer. CFR also recognizes an employee of the month, called a Fan Dancer, who is awarded a cash bonus, a half-day off and his or her name added to a plaque. The office jukebox and success bell help employees feel that each achievement is important. The philosophy at CFR is to celebrate success as often as possible.
Rakes said the companywide benefits recognize “that no matter what you are doing, you play a vital role.”
As a result, the benefits foster a sense of a “huge support system” in the firm.
“People are very excited about new business,” she said. “Even people who are not directly involved with the customer are very excited to hear about it. They take a personal vested interest in the organization.”
With a total of 104 employees, CFR has offices in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Kansas City. The 85 Tulsa employees occupy the eighth and ninth floors of the 5314 S. Yale Ave. tower, and the company has a gym on the fifth floor.
Rakes said that during her 11 years with the company, it has always been a fun place to work.
“Our owner, Jack Allen, is the biggest part of that,” she said.
Allen, who took over the firm in 1986, “has developed a culture that you treat people like adults and they rise to the occasion,” Rakes said. “You give people the tools to do their job, you tell them how to do their job and then they just do it. There is no micromanaging.”
She said the company does not have a lot of workplace rules.
“The Golden Rule would be the biggest one and Allen’s golden rule is you treat people better than you expect to be treated yourself,” she said.
Rakes said CFR’ primarily writes commercial business but that it offers services for groups and individuals as well.
“We do offer a full range of products from health and benefits for companies, as well as personal lines for individuals or for employees of companies that we serve,” she said.
Rakes said CFR represents a large number of providers and writes national as well as international accounts.
“We have several accounts that might be based here in the region but they also have operations in China or Ireland or South America,” she said.
CFR, which reported $27.8 million in premiums other than property and casualty written and property and casualty revenue of $11.2 million, is one of two Tulsa agencies that made it on the Insurance Journal’s list for 2008.
Tulsa-based Bainswest Inc. was ranked 59 with property and casualty premiums of $153.2 million. Bainswest was identified as having an affiliation with a network or cluster group.
The annual ranking by Insurance Journal is based on information “garnered from voluntary online submissions from agencies, brokerages and best estimates based on other public information sources,” the magazine said in its accompanying story. ?

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