American Family strengthens ties in St. Joseph

Insurer donates $250,000 to civic groups, lays out plans for major addition

St. Joseph, Mo. (Dec. 16, 2004) - American Family Insurance today strengthened its commitment to St. Joseph, Mo., donating $250,000 to six non-profit groups and announcing it will expand its regional headquarters here with a $10-$12 million addition.

"We're proud to be part of St. Joseph," said President and Chief Operating Officer Dave Anderson."American Family has been an employer in St. Joseph since 1958, and since that time this community has been extraordinary in making us feel welcome and valued. We're glad to express our gratitude in a very tangible and meaningful way with this corporate gift and major building project."

Contributions of $50,000 each were presented to Habitat for Humanity; the Juda House, a transitional shelter for the homeless run by Interfaith Community Services; Second Harvest Food Bank; and Success by 6, an early childhood screening and development program.

The St. Joseph Family YMCA and YWCA will split a fifth $50,000 gift, with funds for the YMCA earmarked for children services and the YWCA for its shelter for abused and homeless women and children.

"American Family believes it's important we play an active role in the communities where we conduct business, both through volunteerism and charitable contributions. And the focus of these efforts has always been families and children," said Michael "Ranger" Duran, vice president of sales, Midland Region. "These contributions fit with our mission perfectly."

Anderson said the contributions reflect American Family's positive relationship with local government and civic officials. When American Family centralized its commercial insurance processing center in St. Joseph in 1999, Buchanan County provided a $250,000 loan with a contingency that the loan be forgiven if the company added 150 jobs.

The company satisfied the contingency in less than two years, and since January 1999 has increased its St. Joseph work force by nearly 300 full-time and part-time employees. More than 850 American Family employees currently work in St. Joseph.

"What we've established here is really a true partnership," said Anderson. "American Family is a financially strong and growing company, so we're pleased to share that success with a community that's helped us make that happen - and where thousands of our customers, employees and agents live and raise their families."

Building addition

Job growth is the reason why American Family decided to move forward with the addition to its regional headquarters at 4802 Mitchell Avenue, Duran said. Space at the current building is at such a premium, he said, that about 50 claim employees recently moved to a temporary office in the East Hills Shopping Center.

The four-story addition will consist of 100,000 square feet, increasing the building's total square footage to approximately 335,000. The surface parking lot will also be expanded significantly.

"This project will allow us to bring all our St. Joseph employees back into one building and provide the breathing room we need for our current work force," Duran said. "Moreover, while there are no immediate plans to add more positions, this at least gives us that option down the road. If we had kept the status quo, that option would not exist."

Work on the addition is expected to start in late spring or summer of 2005, with a tentative completion date of late 2006. Ellison-Auxier Architechts of St. Joseph will serve as the project architect. Lawhon Construction, also of St. Joseph, will be the general contractor.

This will be the third time American Family has added to its Mitchell Avenue facility, which the company first constructed in 1979 after operating in leased space since 1958. The company also expanded the original 100,000-square-foot building in 1983 and 1989.

American Family employees in St. Joseph work in a variety of areas including: commercial and personal lines insurance, claims, corporate education, finance, human resources, marketing, information services, legal and office administration. American Family is the second largest provider of homeowners and private passenger auto insurance in Missouri.

* Based in Madison, Wis., American Family Insurance offers auto, homeowners, life, health, commercial and farm/ranch insurance, plus financial services, in 17 states. American Family is the nation's 3rd largest mutual property/casualty insurance company.


Ken Muth
Media Relations Director
Tel: (608) 242-4100, ext. 30680