Rutherfoord marks 100 years in business
One hundred years of business is a major achievement for any company, but it’s also a family anniversary for Virginia-based insurance brokerage Rutherfoord, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC Company.
The Rutherfoord family has been involved continuously with the company since Thomas Rutherfoord founded it on Feb. 1, 1916, in Roanoke.
“When the company first started it was an insurance agency with offices in Roanoke, New York City and Welch, W.Va.,” says Thomas Rutherfoord Brown, the founder’s grandson, who is the company’s chairman.
Brown attributes Rutherfoord’s long-term success to its strategic planning process, which brought about a focus on risk management.
“Through the strategic planning process, we evolved into a resource-rich brokerage firm that was bringing tremendous value to our customers for claims mitigation, risk prevention and other areas of specialization,” he says. “We have significantly enhanced our capabilities. It is our desire to become an integral part of our customers’ professional team.”
Today Rutherfoord is part of the Marsh & McLennan Agency network. Rutherfoord serves a region that includes 11 states — Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky and West Virginia — and the District of Columbia. New York-based Marsh & McLennan Agency, a global leader in insurance brokerage and risk management services, acquired Rutherfoord in 2010.
“We don’t have a flag in all of those places, but part of our goal is to build out that footprint,” Brown says.
During the past century, Rutherfoord grew and changed under the family’s guidance.
After the death of the firm’s founder in 1952, his brother, Julian Rutherfoord, and Julian’s two sons, Julian Rutherfoord Jr. and Thomas D. Rutherfoord, ran the company.
The brothers split the company in 1963, with Thomas focusing on the commercial side of the business.
“It was Thomas D. Rutherfoord that focused on the construction industry,” Brown says. “The firm became recognized as a specialist in the construction industry for surety and insurance. Construction is still one of our top industry segments.”
By 1971, Thomas D. Rutherfoord Jr., the founder’s grandnephew, was managing the Alexandria office. He became president of the company when his father retired in 1986. The younger Rutherfoord took on the roles of CEO in 1998 and chairman in 2004. He retired last year.
Brown joined the firm in 1979 as a producer in Roanoke. He became president in 1998, CEO in 2004 and vice chairman in 2010 before becoming chairman earlier this year. His son, Thomas Rutherfoord Brown Jr., now working as a producer, represents the fourth generation in the business.
The company’s growing presence in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic regions caught the eye of Marsh & McLennan. When it was acquired six years ago, Rutherfoord had 350 employees and annual revenue of $83 million.
“What attracted them to us was the quality of the firm and the geographic footprint,” Brown says. “We were one of the first acquisitions they made.”
Rutherfoord now has offices in Richmond, Roanoke, Alexandria and Hampton Roads; Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro, High Point and Wilmington, N.C.; Greenville, S.C.; Atlanta; King of Prussia, Pa.; and Mobile, Ala.
Over the years, Rutherfoord has continuously broadened its expertise. For example, international risk management, which includes Defense Base Act coverage, has become a big component of the company’s offerings. The coverage provides workers’ compensation to certain governmental entities working outside the United States on American military bases or under a contract with the U.S. government.
“If you were working for one of the agencies that endorsed the program, you had to go through us to get Defense Base Act coverage,” Brown says. “When the war in Iraq broke out, demand for our services increased exponentially. We are still in that business today.”
The industries the company serves range from real estate and construction to technology and health sciences. “There isn’t anything we can’t do,” Brown says. “We have the expertise to do a lot of things.”
Rutherfoord President and CEO John Stanchina, who joined the firm in 1994 as a producer, has found it personally satisfying to watch as the company innovates and expands. “It’s been a great first 100 years, and it should be an even more rewarding next 100 years,” he says.
The company has created an atmosphere where associates “have no ceiling on where they can take their careers,” Stanchina says.