Texas Mutual Donates $400,000 in College Safety Grants

1610869_10153632271407814_4661133832863129017_nEach year, Texas Mutual has the chance to invest in safety programs that will impact thousands of Texans. One that we are especially proud to support is the risk management institute safety grant program that allows us to partner with colleges to educate local workers on safety issues relevant to the dominant industries in their regions.

As part of this program, Texas Mutual recently awarded four $100,000 grants to help maintain safety institutes at Kilgore College, Midland College, College of the Mainland in Texas City and Del Mar College in Corpus Christi.

Over the last 16 years, we’ve awarded $3.9 million in safety education grants, and approximately 30,000 students have attended free safety courses at these colleges.

For each college, there’s a different safety focus depending on the needs of the local community. In the Midland area, it’s oil and gas. In Kilgore, the majority of their training is industrial, and College of the Mainland focuses heavily on establishing various safety and incident management programs. Breaking from tradition, this year Del Mar College is establishing bus driver training. Using their donation from Texas Mutual, as well as the generous donation of a bus from the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority, the college will expand their existing Class A program to include Class B CDL license training as well. This meets a need in the community to train candidates to be Regional Transit Authority and local school bus drivers.

Texas Mutual’s Vice President of Safety Services Woody Hill visited each of the four colleges to present the grants and had a chance to visit with risk management institute leaders.

“Through the classes at these four safety institutes, more Texas employees are receiving free safety training, giving them tools to be successful in business. Most importantly, we’re taking a big step toward keeping workers safe by providing educational programs,” said Woody.

“These grants, along with other Texas Mutual safety programs, exemplify the company’s ongoing commitment to workplace safety and the prevention of workplace accidents. Workplace safety education is always a sound investment.”

To learn more about each college’s risk management institute, click the links below.

College of the Mainland

Kilgore College

Midland College

Del Mar College

Texas Mutual’s IT Department Growing

iStock_000047801104_smallOne of the biggest challenges any company faces is keeping up with the technological needs of their customers. At Texas Mutual, this challenge is met by highly talented IT professionals who make it possible for our policyholders, injured workers, health care providers, agents and employees to easily work together.

To make this happen, Texas Mutual’s IT department is busier than ever before. For instance, in the last six months alone, our IT teams have launched several new technologies, including an updated website, new intranet, new notification options for agents and countless updates to our existing systems. Most exciting of all, the IT department recently replaced our entire claims system and is currently working on replacing the policy and billing system.

With the many projects the department is working on come opportunities to bring more IT professionals on board. Texas Mutual’s IT department is the perfect place for tech pros who want a healthy work-life balance as well as the opportunity to innovate and grow professionally.

Take a look below to see how two of our IT team members found their place at Texas Mutual and what it’s like for them to work at the company:

Rob Jenkins, systems engineer

Q: What was it like when you started at Texas Mutual?

A: I moved more than 1,000 miles with my wife to start my career at Texas Mutual and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. People who know me know I don’t make radical decisions like that. I usually make pretty calculated decisions when it comes to life changes, but I knew it was a decision I wouldn’t regret. I instantly felt like I was part of a family here.

Q: What makes Texas Mutual’s IT environment different than most technology environments?

A: The fact that it doesn’t require you to give up your life. It’s an oddball in that sense. There are very few companies that’ll allow the family and work-life balance and let you work in IT. Working at Texas Mutual allowed me to start a family.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working for Texas Mutual?

A: Management here is phenomenal to work with. When you talk to them, they listen. They’re approachable. I think that’s critical. In other places, asking a question could limit your career with them

Brian Mullen, senior systems analyst

Q: What makes Texas Mutual’s IT environment different than most technology environments?

A: As a software engineer, you have two environments – corporations or startups. Startups are unpredictable, they can be bought up, and they often require long hours. When the opportunity to work here came along, I liked the idea of a consistent, stable job.

Q: What are most of your days like at Texas mutual?

A: Most of my days are spent working on whichever project we’re focusing on at the time. One of the best things about my days here is that I can count on leaving at a reasonable time every day so I can enjoy my son’s baseball games and time with my family. It’s rare that I’m called on for overtime, and it’s usually only during critical times, like when we launched a new product that makes imaging the bills and the workflow of processing those bills easier. Those were some of the few 10-hour days I’ve had since working here, but they were worth it. It’s always exciting to launch a new product.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working for Texas Mutual?

A: The customer-first culture we foster here. It enables me to provide the best product possible to my customers.

Ready for an IT career at Texas Mutual or know someone who would be a great fit? Find out why we’ve been named a Best Company to Work for in Texas for the last five years by visiting our careers page and connecting with us on LinkedIn.

On the Road with Texas Mutual Recruiting

By Stephanie Schumacher, Recruiting Consultant

By Stephanie Schumacher, Recruiting Consultant

Recent visits to the University of Texas and Texas State Technical College wrapped up a busy first season of college recruiting. I’ve packed everything away until this fall, when our recruiting efforts will continue. The overall result? New relationships, building our brand at universities and a pipeline of talent that will serve Texas Mutual for years to come.   Now, we’ve set our sights on filling a new class of underwriter trainees that will start June 2.

Recruiting for a new class of underwriters made me curious about underwriting. I got a chance to find out more from underwriter and Baylor grad Scott Bonds in our Dallas office.   So Scott, what does a day in your life look like?

Scott says:

I’d say for an underwriter in Texas, my day is pretty darn good.

6:15 a.m. – 6:50 a.m. Wake up, shower, grab a quick glass of orange juice and head to a local networking meeting.

7 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. Network with a group of business people from all industries (Baylor Business Network of Dallas) and listen to an interesting presentation given by a Baylor Alum. I talk with a few alumni and meet a few who are agents in Dallas. They know about Texas Mutual, and I tell them the latest news on our success and which industries I see growing in my book of business. They like the update and talk about the upcoming football season.

8:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. Travel into work and fight traffic. I dream about the day road construction will be finished and anticipate how much better the drive will be.

9 a.m. – 11 a.m. Pull up my email and queue to see what the day has in store. I have two voicemails from agents. The first is a question on how to classify a risk.   The second wants to discuss pricing on a new business account we quoted last week. His presentation to the client is Friday, so he needs a quick response.

I return the phone calls and respond to a few emails. The agent who wanted to discuss the submission thinks his account deserves better pricing. I ask about the safety procedures the account has in place and what the insured has done to prevent a few larger losses from happening again. He says he will find out and get back to me later in the day.

I process a few endorsements and review renewal accounts. I’m able to release them fairly quickly. Now it’s time to head to lunch.

11 a.m. – noon Grab lunch with a co-worker down the street at a local Italian restaurant. We talk about a few of the accounts we are working on and how the Dallas sports teams are doing.

Noon – 2:30 p.m. I get back to my desk. I have a voicemail from the agent who needs additional pricing. He has the answers I need. I review how the losses will develop in our pricing tool and document why I’m able to reduce the pricing. He is excited and thinks we will get the business.

I review a more complex account and discuss some of the exposures with my supervisor. We agree that we need a slight increase due to the losses being higher than expected.

I send a few emails, process three more endorsements and pack up for my agency visit later at 3 p.m.

2:30 p.m. – 3 p.m. Our marketing representative and I drive over to meet with one of my agents. Their office is actually near my house, so I take my own car to head home afterward.

3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Our marketing representative and I meet with the agency owners to discuss accounts and check their outlook for the year. The agency projects they will grow approximately 10 percent with us in the coming year.

We finish up our meeting around 3:45 p.m., and I walk around the office talking with some of the account managers and producers. I visit with an account manager and learn about her commute. Then, I speak with a few producers who are Baylor alumni about my meeting that morning and talk football. The owner of the agency drops by and gives us a hard time about it, as he went to a different school. We discuss a few more accounts the agency is targeting that may be a good fit for Texas Mutual. I make a few notes in my notebook and tell the producer I will be on the lookout for them when they hit my desk. I shake a few more hands as I’m walking out and head home.

4:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. I make the short(er) drive home.

As Scott describes his “typical Tuesday,” I notice he is clearly well-versed in analysis, teamwork, negotiating, customer service and relationship building. And football, lots of football.

Join me next time, when I go “On the Road” with Austin regional office senior underwriter Nathan Rudolph and update progress on our underwriting class.

On the Road with Texas Mutual Recruiting

Travel report:  Austin to Denton, 224 miles

Weather: Spring to Winter, back to Spring

Notable stops:  “The Super Pit” at UNT

By Stephanie Schumacher, Recruiting Consultant

By Stephanie Schumacher, Recruiting Consultant

Shortly after our visit to Baylor, the recruiting team’s travels took us to another sea of green in Denton, home of the University of North Texas (UNT).

The UNT career fair was held at UNT Coliseum, known on campus as “The Super Pit.” Over 100 employers gathered in the area circling the arena, called one of the finest basketball facilities in college athletics The facility was designed for functional flexibility and can easily be maneuvered into theatrical or concert configurations. The impressive Super Pit offers spectators an unobstructed view of the arena from every seat.

I was joined by Michelle Chamberlain of our Dallas regional office, along with UNT alumni Larry Martin and TJ LeBrun. Nearly 1,000 students poured into the building, anxious to find their future homes. The students who visited the Texas Mutual booth were risk management focused. Many are pursuing careers as underwriters or claims adjusters. A few even had multiple years of experience working for insurance carriers.

TJ noted, “This was a great way for Texas Mutual to increase brand awareness and exposure to the type of talent we can hopefully cultivate in the future.”

Larry Martin agreed. “Creating a pipeline of talent is critical to the future success of the company. The industry, as a whole, pulled back significantly on promoting itself as a career path during the recession. We would like to be on the forefront of efforts to reverse that.”

Where to next? Come out and meet some of our regional Texas Mutual all-stars at our final spring career fair:

April 3 – Texas State Technical College, Temple, TX

Ideas continue to roll in as our fall recruiting efforts evolve. Have suggestions or locations for our recruiting team? Send them to sschumacher@texasmutual.com.

About the author
Stephanie Schumacher is the corporate recruiter at Texas Mutual Insurance Company.  She was a founding partner and chief marketing officer at Platinum Select, LP, a medical staffing firm operating in all 50 states.  Platinum Select was recognized as the Fastest Growing Medical Staffing Company in the U.S. in 2006.  Stephanie spent five years traveling and collaborating on multiple startup concepts in Dallas.  She also served as a mentor for the City of Dallas’ Youth Today Entrepreneur Tomorrow program and was a board member for the West Dallas Chamber of Commerce.

On the Road with Texas Mutual Recruiting

Travel report:  Austin to Waco, 101.2 miles

Weather: Unpredictable

Notable stops:  Baylor Stadium

By Stephanie Schumacher, Recruiting Consultant

By Stephanie Schumacher, Recruiting Consultant

Last July, I moved back to Austin after a 17-year stint in Dallas. In my brief time back in the Capitol City, I have driven north on IH-35 to Dallas 29 times.  Yes, 29 times.  The trip is a bit like a familiar old friend.  Instead of watching mile markers, I count landmarks as my own personal GPS.  Spots everyone knows well, like Inner Space Caverns, the Stagecoach Inn, the Starbucks up on the hill in Temple and the Elite Café, tell exactly how far away I am from my destination.

One of my favorite new landmarks is the enormous Baylor stadium.  I was fortunate to get a good look at it this time, as our travels brought the recruiting team to the Waco Convention Center to meet Baylor students eager to start their careers.  Considered a major economic catalyst, the 93-acre stadium site will be the largest project in the history of Central Texas.

This time around, the Texas Mutual recruiting team consisted of Shonda Brown of our Austin regional office, Tim Osmond from our Dallas regional office and Baylor graduate Scott Bonds, also from our Dallas regional office.

The Baylor career fair was first class.  I was particularly fascinated with the fun Baylor traditions the organizers incorporated into the event.  Lunch from Vitek’s featured the “Gut Pack,” a combination of beans, Frito’s, sliced sausage, jalapenos, pickles and onions.  Voted “Best College Eats in America,” the Gut Pack is a longstanding Baylor staple.  Not decadent enough?

Afterward, Dr. Pepper floats were served, an every-Tuesday tradition on campus.  Waco is the home of Dr. Pepper, and it was plentiful in every flavor.

Baylor had a professional photographer snapping pics of students for their LinkedIn profiles. I think we will borrow that idea in the coming weeks.

After the fair, I asked Dallas underwriter Scott Bonds what it was like to be back on campus as an employer.

“I was very excited to come back to Baylor to help spread the word about Texas Mutual,” said Scott. “It was a much more relaxed experience for me being on the other side of the table! I remember attending career fairs as a student and constantly wondering if I would find the right place. Luckily, I connected with Texas Mutual and become part of this amazing company.”

Scott went on to say, “We truly have so much to offer recent college graduates by being a stable workplace and a respected company. And how could I mention Texas Mutual without speaking about the people? When I was hired, everyone was so helpful and patient with me. I tried to communicate that to students who stopped by the booth.”

Scott and Tim did an amazing job explaining their roles to the students. Some even reached out to us in the days after to say they are now considering careers in underwriting.

Toward the end of the fair, we got a nice surprise when Ken Starr, Baylor’s president and chancellor, stopped by our booth.

About the author
Stephanie Schumacher is the corporate recruiter at Texas Mutual Insurance Company.  She was a founding partner and chief marketing officer at Platinum Select, LP, a medical staffing firm operating in all 50 states.  Platinum Select was recognized as the Fastest Growing Medical Staffing Company in the U.S. in 2006.  Stephanie spent five years traveling and collaborating on multiple startup concepts in Dallas.  She also served as a mentor for the City of Dallas’ Youth Today Entrepreneur Tomorrow program and was a board member for the West Dallas Chamber of Commerce.

On the Road with Texas Mutual Recruiting

by Stephanie Schumacher, Recruiting Consultant

Travel report:  Austin to Houston, 162 miles

Weather: Dreary and cold

Notable stops:  Weikel’s Kolaches in LaGrange – wow!

It’s February, and that means Texas Mutual is on the road recruiting from some of Texas’ best colleges.  Economists all over the nation forecast that Texas will dominate the job market in 2014, with Austin, Houston, McAllen and Dallas all vying for the number 1 spot.  Even more exciting, five Texas cities are among the fastest-growing in the country.  So we launched our 2014 recruiting plan to account for growth and find the future leaders of Texas Mutual.

Image

Texas Mutual’s Jeremy Hansen, Erika Turner-Green and Alexis Osborne meet prospective candidates at the Texas Job Fair

“Our mission at Texas Mutual is to help make Texas the safest state to work and live,” said Rich Gergasko, Texas Mutual president and CEO. “When workplace accidents do occur, we work very hard to ensure that our injured workers and their families are cared for and treated properly. As we continue to insure more Texas employers, we want to create a pipeline into the state’s higher education institutions to find the best and brightest students who are attracted to our culture.”

February 6, we set out for our first career fair in Houston with Rich’s mission in mind.  Houston-based employees Brent McClellan, Jeremy Hansen, Alexis Osborne, Erika Turner-Green and I represented Texas Mutual.  The fair, held at the Rice campus and known as the “Texas Job Fair,” featured a blend of 15 Houston-area colleges.

If you are visiting or new to the Houston area, a trip to the Rice campus is a must.  Rice was established in 1912 on a 285-acre plot.  Beautiful green spaces and heavy woods surround Byzantine-style architecture to make for a true classic collegiate atmosphere.  The fair was held at the Wellness Center, an impressive facility in the center of campus.

The basketball gym had been successfully transformed into a sea of employers.  We were excited to meet current students, alumni and even experienced professionals.  Even more exciting, this first event allowed us to test drive our new, upgraded LinkedIn Career Page.

Candidates visiting our booth used a sleek iPad kiosk to link directly to the Texas Mutual LinkedIn career page in real time.  Many were surprised to see LinkedIn identify their profiles with just a few entries.  The results?  We linked with 90 candidates eager to find out about our careers and future internship possibilities.  We were the only company to feature the LinkedIn technology and have been in touch with many of the linked applicants since ̶ a definite success.

After the fair, we said goodbye to Houston and set our sights on Waco.  Luckily for me, I passed through LaGrange on the way back for another stop at Weikel’s Kolaches.  Their cherry strudel is out of this world!

Are we visiting your campus?  Come out and meet some of our regional Texas Mutual all-stars at the following career fairs:

February 19 – Baylor University

February 26 – University of North Texas

April 3 – Texas State Technical College

Look for us this fall in Lubbock, San Antonio and far South Texas.  Until next time, be sure and stop by our LinkedIn career page to get a little insight on our culture and see how you can connect to Texas Mutual.

From Spindletop to the Silicon Hills, 100 Years of Workers’ Comp in Texas

We couldn’t let September slip by without acknowledging the 100th anniversary of workers’ compensation in Texas. This is an exciting time for your friends at Texas Mutual. After all, workers’ comp is all we do, and we it better than anyone else. We want to take this opportunity to highlight a few milestones in the workers’ comp system we know and love.

Pirates gave as well as they took
History regards 18th century pirates as greedy, ruthless scofflaws. Within their ranks, however, they could be quite judicious. In fact, they developed a sophisticated system for compensating injured crew members.

Loss of an eye entitled the worker to about 100 pieces of eight (Spanish dollars). Loss of a right leg was worth 500 pieces, which was 100 pieces more than loss of a left leg. Go figure.

Spindletop2

To encourage investors, oil was allowed to flow openly at Spindletop.
Courtesy Texas Energy Museaum

Black gold
On January 10, 1901, Anthony Lucas struck oil at Spindletop near Beaumont. The ensuing boom made Texas a player in the national economy. It also presented a quandary for the Legislature.

Oil and gas jobs are among the most hazardous in the country. Texas, like other industrial states, needed a standard means of protecting workers from on-the-job injuries. The Legislature responded by creating our first workers’ compensation system in 1913.

Fixing a broken system
By the late 1980’s, the Texas workers’ compensation system was broken. Premiums were skyrocketing for employers. Furthermore, injured workers were not getting well and returning to the job at the same rate as their counterparts in other states. In an effort to fix the system, the Legislature passed two significant bills over the next 15 years.

Senate Bill 1 (“The New Law”), 1989

  • Raised benefit levels for injured workers
  • Established an administrative process for resolving disputes informally when possible
  • Set medical fee and treatment guidelines to control costs of care
  • Expanded state-administered workplace safety programs
  • Created the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission (TWCC)

House Bill 7, 2005

  • Authorized insurance carriers to establish or contract with workers’ compensation health care networks
  • Abolished the TWCC and transferred its duties to the Division of Workers’ Compensation
  • Created the Office of Injured Employee Counsel to help injured workers resolve benefit disputes with insurance carriers

This article from the summer 2005 edition of Texas Mutual’s policyholder newsletter provides a good look at HB 7.

Out of the rubble
In the spirit of saving the best for last, we withheld one important provision of S.B. 1: It created the Texas Workers’ Compensation Insurance Fund. Ten years later, the Legislature authorized us to operate as a domestic mutual company. Today, Texas Mutual Insurance Company is the state’s leading provider of workers’ comp insurance.

CiCi’s Pizza Franchisee Bob Westbrook is just one of 54,000 Texas employers who rely on Texas Mutual for reliable, affordable workers’ compensation coverage. In this short video, Bob explains how our dividend program boosts his bottom line.

Here’s to 100 more years
When the workers’ comp system debuted, oil and gas was king in Texas. But our economy no longer hangs its 10-gallon hat on a single product. From the tech-rich Silicon Hills of Austin to the manufacturing hub of the Valley, our diverse economy is the envy of the nation.

Spindletop1

McFaddin Drill No. 10, Guffey & Galey, Spindletop
Courtesy Texas Energy Museum

During all of this evolution, a few things have remained constant: 1. Whether on a construction site, in an oil field or in the relatively safe confines of an office, workers get injured on the job. 2. Workers’ compensation insurance is here to help ease their financial burden and get them back on the job.

Happy anniversary to the Texas workers’ comp system. Here’s to another 100 years of protecting workers and their employers from the consequences of on-the-job injuries.

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