Fred Eppinger, president and CEO of The Hanover Insurance Group, reveals how a strong team can transform an organization and bring about outstanding results FRED EPPINGER is a passionate man – passionate about his industry, passionate about the business he’s led for the past 12 years and passionate about the work he and his 5,100 employees undertake in the communities they serve – and he isn’t shy about singing the praises of his 163-year-old organization, headquartered in Massachusetts. He’s not the only one. The company has been recognized several times as one of the Best Places to Work in Insurance, most recently in September 2014. “When you look at the survey results, it’s not a minor thing,” Eppinger says. “Our people are proud of our company.”
In the beginning Eppinger came to insurance via a circuitous path. He started out as an accountant after graduating from the College of Holy Cross in Worcester. “[Accounting] wasn’t something I loved,” he says. “I went to business school, and from business school went on to consult with McKinsey [& Company], where I provided counsel to CEOs of the leading insurance companies at the time.” At McKinsey & Company, Eppinger was given the opportunity to lead the firm’s insurance practice, and that’s when he decided insurance was the industry for him. “It is absolutely so important to the economy and the facilitation of making things happen,” he explains. “You really can’t build anything or do anything without the involvement of insurance. It really allows people and businesses to take risks, and I liked that. “The second thing I really liked about it was
how … it’s very intellectually stimulating and challening. To be able to get an assessment of risk and be able to price that and really figure out how to package that was really quite intriguing.” The opportunity to connect with people was the final piece of the puzzle for Eppinger. “I loved the notion that it required people leadership, people involvement, people engagement, and right from the beginning when I started working in it, I found the people to be terrific …”
“Things change in our industry, and it may be quiet change, but it’s profound” Company turnaround Eppinger arrived at The Hanover in 2003, at a time when the company was struggling, having been downgraded by the rating agencies. “It was an institution that had been around, done a lot of great things, and it was really quite troubled,” he says. “The significant problems of the life insurance business took away from the P&C company’s history and threatened its survival.” Twelve years later, the picture is distinctly different. Under Eppinger’s leadership, The Hanover has transformed from a regional to a national company; it now has a total of 5,100 employees working in the US and abroad. The company has made significant investments across its organization, building what it consid-
ers to be one of the best teams in the industry, strengthening its financial foundation, expanding its product portfolio and its geographical reach while reducing the size of its agent distribution network. Eppinger credits his high-calibre team with
THE HANOVER BY THE NUMBERS Longevity: The business began in 1852, when The Hanover Fire Insurance Company opened in Manhattan at Hanover Square. The Hanover is one of the 40 oldest companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Strength in numbers: The Hanover has 4,300 employees in 41 offices in the US and another 800 employees in eight international offices. Selecting the best: The company works with a select group of 2,200 agents and brokers, providing them with significant franchise value to help improve their economics. Community service: The Hanover is committed to contributing to the communities where its employees live and work – the organization is involved in a range of volunteer activities. The company and its employees contribute around $1.5 million a year to United Way, among other contributions.
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