By George Slaughter, News Editor
GEICO announced that its Katy office will serve as the headquarters for its small business insurance operations.
At a February 15 ceremony at the Katy office, 21420 Merchants Way, company executives said they had been exploring possible locations for over a year. Jason Andrukonis, commercial vice president of GEICO, said GEICO has three criteria: a large and diverse talent pool, a low cost of living, and a location that welcomes business.
Andrukonis said that as Katy rose to the top of the list, he and GEICO senior vice president Melissa Gallardo came to Texas to see Katy with their own eyes. He said the company has held focus groups encouraging executives to make the decision to locate GEICO’s small business insurance operations here. About half of the employees spoken to were native or longtime Texans, and the other half came later, he said.
“Our employees raved about the quality of life here in Katy,” said Andrukonis. “We spent the first 40 minutes talking about the quality of the schools.”
Discussions also took place about the diversity of the community, its amenities, and how residents could work with the cost of living towards buying and owning homes.
“It’s a slam dunk,” said Andrukonis. “We want to grow here in the future.”
Gallardo said the company is known for its auto insurance business — she joked that the GEICO gecko, which she dubbed the “corporate talker lizard,” helped with that — but the company is now expanding into the small-business insurance market.
There’s a lot of market there. She said it was worth $300 billion. She said the company hopes to change a cumbersome customer experience of signing up for small business insurance and offer simplicity, choice and savings like GEICO is doing at its other insurance companies. In addition to small business insurance, GEICO also offers auto, boat, homeowner, motorcycle/quad and rental insurance.
“There are 33 million small businesses across America,” Gallardo said. “Ninety-nine percent of businesses are small businesses. There are many opportunities for GEICO to grow.”
As the company expands its operations, it is looking to hire approximately 250 new employees. The current office building will accommodate the new employees, Andrukonis said. The jobs will focus on small business insurance, sales and customer service, she said. For more information about GEICO jobs, visit careers.geico.com/us.en.
Angie Thomason, interim president/CEO of the Katy Area Economic Development Council, said GEICO has had an office in Katy for about 10 years. The EDC was then involved in helping GEICO set up a store in Katy, she said, and was happy to continue that support.
Gallaro said the company has deep ties to Texas. She said the company started in Fort Worth in 1936 as the Government Employees Insurance Company. She said the goal is to help government employees save 15% or more on insurance — a slogan used in the company’s advertising today.