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Best Places to Work in Insurance 2014: Hylant Group Inc.

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For the Toledo, Ohio-based Hylant Group Inc., recognition that the broker's employees are critical to the company's success has been part of the culture since the business was founded in 1935.

“Our employees are our customer experience, which is our product,” said Richard Hylant, executive vice president at Hylant. “If we aren't selected as a Best Place to Work, I think we've failed ourselves tremendously. It's nice validation, but it's what we need to do to have our customer experience be what it has to be.”

Mr. Hylant credits the company's privately held status as an element that contributes to the high-quality workplace. “That's a big part of our story right there — the family's deep roots in the business and a strong desire to stay privately held,” he said.

“The things that I see and have seen that make Hylant unique and different and a desirable place to be are rooted in some of that tradition, the family values,” said Matthew Dills, executive vice president of talent management at Hylant.

A full-service insurance brokerage with 14 offices in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee and Florida, Hylant has a staff of more than 650.

“The family focus and the values are core values that carry through,” Mr. Dills said. “It's also allowed us to put down some very deep roots in the communities that we're in from an employment standpoint,” he said, adding that it's not uncommon for friends and family of Hylant employees to seek employment at the company.

Hylant offers various programs to support employees' education and training as well as various wellness- and health-oriented activities. The company puts great emphasis on communications. Regular meetings between top executives and employees in the various offices and other activities help employees understand their roles in Hylant's success.

“The other thing I think we do a really nice job of within our culture is providing recognition,” Mr. Dills said. Hylant's employee recognition programs include Best at What We Do, a peer-to-peer program that allows employees to nominate peers for outstanding performance. Quarterly honorees selected by upper management receive $100 and an engraved plaque.

The company also regularly recognizes long-time employees with Senior Service Awards that include a dinner for the employee and a guest, a gift card and plaque. Various other awards are presented to employees during the company's annual meetings.

Hylant employees also are very active in the communities in which the company is located.

“It's important to give back. It's part of our culture,” Mr. Hylant said. Senior leaders are involved in various community activities, and other employees are encouraged to do the same. “I don't tell them what to do — just find something you're passionate about and give back,” Mr. Hylant said.

“At the end of the day, everybody has a choice of where they want to work, and we realize that,” Mr. Dills said. “You want to be proud of the organization you work for. And my experience is there's just a boatload of pride in the organization. People want to work for Hylant.”