The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 19, 2011

Pushing the envelope

Triangle continues to expand service region

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID — As Triangle Insurance officials look toward the company’s 95th annual meeting in April, they look back over a year of $5 million growth in premiums, the addition of an office in Arkansas and a $2 million uptick in workers’ compensation premiums.

During the current year, the company will add three additional states to its business territory.

Triangle Cooperative Service Co. (TCSC) began in 1916.

“In the old days, we were a service company for co-ops in the state of Oklahoma,” said John Berg, president and CEO of Triangle Insurance.

The company served 20 farmer-owned cooperatives at that time and had one employee, Roy Bender. Bender became the company president with a tenure of 33 years.

Triangle now is owned by 385 member cooperatives in eight states and its mission has expanded, as well.

“In 1932, TCSC Insurance Agency started writing insurance through other insurance companies,” Berg said, adding the company finished last year at $50 million in premiums in a five-state area.

Under that umbrella, Triangle Insurance Co. launched in 1992, writing insurance policies. It finished 2010 with $37.5 million worth of premiums, Berg said.

In 2009, the company launched Pro Value LLC, a human resource and service operation that presently does business with companies in Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Arkansas and Texas. Triangle owns a 50 percent share of Pro Value in conjunction with KFSA, based in Hutchinson, Kan.

Berg doesn’t take credit for the company’s steady growth.

“We have really quality employees,” Berg said. “We give unparalleled service. Our tag line is, ‘Our customers know the difference.’ We really know and understand our customer needs because most of our employees come from an agriculture background.”

The company has three second-generation employees: Mandy Cross, CFO and vice president of finance and underwriting; Brandon Simon, systems administrator; and Melina Benton, receptionist.

What Berg sees coming is continuous growth and expansion for the business.

“In the insurance business, you’re either growing or you’re dying,” Berg said.

That’s the reason Triangle continues to push outward and add more states to its service region, he said.

When Triangle first started writing policies for large grain facilities, it had one company it turned to for re-insurance. Now there are 28 re-insurance companies Triangle deals with, both in the U.S. and overseas. Most of the catastrophe policies are purchased from European companies.

The company’s biggest threat is storm season, Berg said. Doing business in the Midwest states of Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Kansas, Colorado, Mississippi, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois and Wisconsin exposes the company to a mix of weather-related losses ranging from tornadoes, hail and wind to ice storms and hurricanes.

Hurricane Brett in 1999 didn’t make much of an impact on the consciousness of most people, but for Triangle Insurance it was a bad event, Brett said.

“It was a non-event for most people, but it wiped out most of the cotton that was stored,” Berg said. “That was the worst one for us.”