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Best Places to Work in Insurance 2013: West Bend Mutual Insurance Co.

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Best Places to Work in Insurance 2013: West Bend Mutual Insurance Co.

West Bend Mutual Insurance Co., West Bend, Wis., prides itself on providing employee fitness opportunities and general convenience by offering outside services on-site for its workers.

“We have a very mature health and wellness program — we've invested in an on-site fitness facility, which we call the gym, but it's really a health club,” said West Bend President and CEO Kevin Steiner. “It's managed in collaboration with our local YMCA.”

He noted that West Bend refers to its employees as “associates,” and that all of its associates, as well as their spouses and children age 16 to 24, have access to the facility. In addition to regular on-site fitness classes, “the company has fitness challenges like walking and bike-to-work programs. We have several miles of trails on-site, so people don't have to leave the property,” he said.

“We make it very convenient,” he said. “It's part of our culture. The key to a successful wellness program is convenience and fun.”

Convenience extends beyond promoting employee wellness, said Mr. Steiner.

“In our work environment, we like to provide as much on-site as possible. We have a bank on-site, people can drop off and pick up their dry cleaning,” as well as an on-site convenience store, he said. “They can mail their packages from here.” He added that the company has a cafeteria known as “The Terrace,” which serves breakfast and lunch subsidized for the associates including free coffee, sodas and milk.

“That becomes a central meeting place,” he said.

He noted that the company sits on 160 acres of prairie land, and “we seek to be good stewards of our environment,” he said.

This includes having a community garden program for company employees “where they can garden on our property,” said Mr. Steiner. The insurer also has a used-battery drop bin and a used-computer recycle day.

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The company also believes in exercising the brain as well as the body.

“We offer a lot of great educational opportunities,” said Deb Cahoon, assistant vice president-human resources. She said West Bend offers classes on-site with many of its employees acting as instructors.

Employees who earn the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter designation receive a trip with one guest to the CPCU annual meeting, she said.

The company also promotes strong ties with the local community, Ms. Cahoon and Mr. Steiner both stressed.

“We have local bands and choirs come in at Christmas during lunch, which ties into our community environment,” said Mr. Cahoon. The insurer also has a diversity awareness program that celebrates different cultures every month.

“We believe that part of our responsibility is to support the communities we live and work in,” said Mr. Steiner. The company donates more than $1 million annually to nonprofits in its communities. “More importantly, a large percentage of our associates give their time to volunteer,” Mr. Steiner said.

“I'm really proud of the work we do to support our communities,” he said.