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  • Bell Insurance: Familiar Faces with New Spaces

  • Bell Insurance: Familiar Faces with New Spaces

    Bell Insurance: Familiar Faces with New Spaces

    With a rich history dating back over 100 years ago in downtown Fargo, what we know today as Bell Insurance started with long-time local insurance agency Warner and Company.

    Founded in 1911, Warner and Company Insurance became Bell Insurance one year ago, joining forces with Bell Bank, one of the largest independently owned banks in the nation—not to mention a FMWF Chamber Community Builder.

    Brian Hayer, the fourth president in Warner and Company’s history and now managing director at Bell Insurance, was proud to share that all Warner and Company employees stayed through the transition—and they’ve seen great growth since. “There’s such perfect alignment of what we value and what Bell values,” he said. “Our teams already share the values of community involvement and ethical decision-making. We treat employees like family. Our core values haven’t changed since the beginning, and it’s the same with Bell.”

    The acquisition was made as Bell Bank was growing and thriving with its array of banking and financial services, but historically hadn’t offered insurance. This entry into insurance has allowed Bell to diversify its offerings to serve communities even better.

    Hayer explained that the insurance industry is condensing, and we’re seeing many mergers and acquisitions across the country. But Bell Bank’s purchase of Warner and Company was driven by many other factors. With a long history together, the companies’ employees already knew each other’s cultures and had been partners in many efforts for decades, sharing similar key values and motivations. Hayer said a bonus for Warner was knowing that Bell’s decisions are made locally.

    “Warner has a century-long commitment to building our community and treating people the right way,” Bell Bank president and CEO Michael Solberg said in an announcement. “It’s a fantastic culture fit for our two companies.”

    That culture of corporate giving and community service is another part of what made Warner and Company such a great fit for Bell Bank. Both organizations had been named to the United Way of Cass-Clay’s 50 most generous workplaces list. The insurance division now also gets to be part of Bell’s Pay It Forward program—which since 2008 has empowered more than $15 million in grassroots giving. Each year, every full-time employee at Bell receives $1,000, and every part-time employee $500, to give as they choose to people in need and causes they care about. Everyone also gets volunteer time to give back.

    Following the January 2019 announcement, Bell Insurance completed a generous remodel, a year and a half in the making and finished last April. The space is unique, because it’s the only office right next to the iconic Fargo Theater sign—and offers a lovely rooftop balcony employees can use, decked out with big-screen TVs, barbecues and a fire pit. While the insurance employees had been spread out among four floors, they now are together on two floors and appreciate being able to have a fresh start in their old digs. New amenities include ergonomic and stand-up desks for employees, video conferencing, and a better space for breaks.

    During renovation, Bell Insurance saw an opportunity to enhance the office space by adding a mural stretching outside a series of office windows.

    Today, Bell Insurance offers full-service, comprehensive insurance for protection and peace of mind through products in their business and personal insurance portfolios, comprising auto, home, recreational, life and business services. “Insurance is new to Bell, but it isn’t new to the people who work here,” said Zack Dawson, Bell Insurance director. “This is a great fit, working with the bank and being able to provide Bell customers an even broader range of services.”

    With a mindset focused on growth, the Bell Insurance team sees tremendous opportunity in the FMWF region and beyond to continue their story. “As Bell’s footprint expands, Bell Insurance is looking to follow into new markets,” Dawson said, adding that they currently are looking at growth opportunities in both Minneapolis and Phoenix.

    The Bell Bank family consists of four divisions: banking, wealth management, insurance and mortgage services. Bell Insurance has 36 employees across three offices in downtown Fargo, Grand Forks and Detroit Lakes.

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