Neckerman Insurance Services wins Best in Business honors

The focus of the January issue of IB will be on longevity as we celebrate business anniversaries. In a fickle marketplace, to endure 50 years or more, a company has to be nimble and yet solid, inventive yet dependable. And, usually to be successful, it has also formalized a program to give back to the community. For example, Neckerman Insurance Services, the longest-serving independent insurance agency in Madison (est. 1914) has funneled thousands of dollars and service hours into Meals on Wheels, Second Harvest’s Share Your Holidays campaign, The Salvation Army’s Adopt-a-Kettle, United Way, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society – to name a few of its recipient charities. And that’s why, in part, the company was recently honored with a Best in Business award ceremony.

Pictured from left to right: Tony Arneson (Neckerman owner), Julann Jatczak (WWBIC), Kristi Shepard (United Way), Van Nutt (Middleton Chamber), Doug Dittmann (Neckerman owner), Bob Ansheles (Madison Chamber), Donna Gray (Total Awards & Promotions), Lois Kinlen (Neckerman owner), Randy Krantz (Neckerman owner).

“Neckerman Insurance employees are committed to the Madison community,” owner Doug Dittman said, “whether it’s volunteering, serving on committees, or supporting organizations through sponsorships. We provide opportunities during the business day for everyone in the agency to participate in volunteer roles. This helps each and every one to take ownership of not only their work but also of their community.”

It’s exciting for me personally, in my IB role as sponsor of the Best in Business awards, to get to know more about excellent business models in this community, and then to help celebrate their accomplishments. While I don’t vote to decide the recipients (but can veto a selection), I do get to review the nomination forms and participate in the ceremony where employees join owners or general managers to hear firsthand, from the selection committee, why the company won the award.

A no-brainer

“Some winners are no-brainers,” commented committee member Elaine Beaubien, who represents Edgewood College on the committee. Neckerman, she said, was one of those easy choices when the group reviewed nominated companies. It quickly rose to the top of the pile.

The Neckerman Agency began in the heart of Madison’s downtown. In 1979, it moved its office to Monroe Street across from the UW-Madison’s Arboretum. In May 2004, another move – to 6200 Mineral Point Rd. In 2001, the agency was purchased by the younger generation, who all have extensive experience in the insurance industry: Doug Dittmann, president; Tony Arneson, vice president; Randy Krantz, vice president; and Lois Kinlen, secretary/treasurer. In 2009, the dba became Neckerman Insurance Services to provide a more immediate understanding of products and services (full-service insurance agency – from property and casualty, to life and disability insurance, and large and small risk coverages).

Said Kristi Shepard, chair of the Best in Business Awards Committee. “We believe in saluting the businesses of our community who have not only made a difference to our local economy, but also to their employees and customers. These are the heroes that get up every day and make the capital region a better place.”

To take you further behind the scenes at a BIB meeting, Shepard (whose actual position is director of leadership giving for United Way of Dane County) abstained from voting when the Neckerman nomination was put before the group because she knew Neckerman was at 90% giving to United Way during the most recent giving cycle – an incredibly high employee participation rate. She wanted that fact known at the expense of excusing herself from the vote due to making a presentation supporting the nomination. Still, the vote was unanimous that the company was an example of the best of the best in the Greater Madison marketplace.

Shining a light on great businesses since 1987

Beaubien is a founding member of the Best in Business award, as are sponsors Donna Gray, Total Awards and Promotions, and (Bill Haight) In Business magazine. Robin Marohn represents Heartland Credit Union, and has been a voting member for many years. The group also includes chambers of commerce representatives (at present, Bob Ancheles from the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce and Van Nutt from the Middleton Chamber). Deb Houden represents the UW’s Family Business Center. Also, I’d like to send out a personal shout of appreciation for service to Phyllis Wilhelm and Neil Lerner, who participated for many years with the group since I’ve been involved the last 16 years.

Should we shine a light your way?

I would encourage you to consider nominating your company or employer if it is a “best in class” performer committed to (1) workplace excellence, (2) being a leader in its industry, and (3) being a partner in the community it serves. You can go to the Best in Business website to apply.

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