Glatfelter Insurance Group (GIG) is one of the top 20 privately
held brokerages in the country. I had the pleasure of serving as
the company’s first Chief Information Officer for over 16 years.
Today, Glatfelter is a major program manager and while an
agency on paper, it acts like any national primary carrier.
Glatfelter has both retail and wholesale operations and is a
major player in the program management arena. The infrastructure has them well positioned to grow beyond the five
national programs they manage today.
Let’s back up to 1997 when Glatfelter initiated a national
search for a CIO. After several conversations with their search
firm, and a day and a half of interviews with the senior management team and IT staff, I was offered the position. Glatfelter
was poised for the future, but needed someone to move their
Two years earlier, GIG had changed its
model and positioned itself to act more like
a carrier than an agency. They formed an
offshore captive, assumed risk on their one
major program at that time, and moved
from their long-time primary carrier to
a new carrier. As part of this new model, they purchased an AS/400 computer
system along with a policy issue and rating
system, and a claims administration system. They finally had a “modern” database
and were ready for the future. That was the
position presented to me from which we
would move forward.
When I walked in the door, the reality was a bit different. On my first day, our marketing executive vice president
dropped a purchase order for a CRM system on my desk. There
wasn’t one, but “we needed it.” As the first few weeks and
months unfolded, I realized our new policy issue and rating
system wasn’t completely implemented and was unable to
systematically process endorsements; there was a backlog being
tracked on a white board.
The claims system was serving as our administration system
of record because the policy database was proprietary and “closed”
So, the reality of the situation was quite a bit different. We
had lots of issues and desperately needed strategic technol-
ogy direction. There was a clear lack of annual planning for
technology and several new systems were needed that required
additional staff and lots of money.
Glatfelter was up to the task and I was given the flexibility and
authority to take us to that new level. We hired people with ex-
perience from other carriers and companies. We developed our
first five-year technology strategic plan in 1997 and built annual
tactical plans to support it. While that was happening, our busi-
ness was growing and acquisitions were being made available to
us. Our facilities were expanding and our infrastructure needed
to grow to accommodate all of that. Consider the times. The late
nineties was a period of phenomenal change
in the technology arena. Networking was
changing rapidly; technology manufacturers
were evolving, merging, and new ones were
forming (with great stories); and we had to
completely redefine and re-engineer our
infrastructure. At the same time, we needed
to find solutions for our applications. We
had no CRM solution. Our billing system at
the time was almost 20 years old. The policy
issuance system, though new, had to be
replaced. An old agency management sys-
tem was serving as our corporate financial
application…the list went on and on. We
were fortunate to have some talented folks
working at GIG and we were able to recruit several key people.
We built clear and focused plans supported by the business units;
their world was about to change significantly.
The first two years were what I would call an inventory
phase. We took stock of what we had, fixed what wasn’t working, got those endorsements processed, simplified the month-end process so we could breathe, expanded our network, leased
new equipment, and got the ball rolling. And don’t forget that
the “Y2K” fear was hanging over our heads, too.
January 1, 2000 came and went without incident, so my
team and I were able to get to work. Over the next decade we
worked to transform Glatfelter into the organization it is today,
with an infrastructure and systems portfolio that any primary
company would envy. We were early adopters of a data warehouse that we started exploring in 1999. We looked at social
An Agency “Makeover”
Glatfelter underwent serious changes over the last two decades.