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Wirt Yerger Jr.

Wirt Yerger Jr. speaks to the 150th employee dinner.

State’s first insurance company celebrates a milestone event


For some companies, a major milestone may be 10, 25 or even 50 years in business. But the milestone for Ross & Yerger Insurance Inc. is much more impressive. The company, which was the first insurance company in the state, is celebrating 150 years as a risk-management company, and a proud part of the community. 

Since the days when business suits sold for $10, through the Great Depression and several wars, Ross & Yerger has not only survived, but thrived. So what makes a contributes to the company’s long-lasting success? 

“Our community efforts are the ones that reap the biggest rewards,” said Ross & Yerger’s president and chief operating officer Dudley Wooley. “After all, this isn’t just where we work, it’s where we live. Since 1860, we’ve held to a strong commitment to lend a hand in Jackson, Tupelo and Baton Rouge, La., to help them grow, prosper and flourish.”

That commitment began when James B. Ross and Edward Yerger opened their doors to new businesses around Mississippi in need of insurance protection. The commitment continues today, and is one of the main reasons Ross & Yerger is such a strong company. 

At a recent dinner to celebrate the momentous anniversary with the company’s 84 employees, Wirt Yerger Jr., Wirt Yerger III, Frank Yerger and Mary Dunbar were recognized for their personal contributions and dedication to the firm. “My greatest accomplishment at Ross & Yerger has been hiring some fantastic employees,” said chairman emeritus Wirt Yerger Jr. “We are blessed and fortunate. The Lord is always looking after us.” He reminded employees to keep things in perspective because “some things you think are critical are not really that important.”

The company’s commitment to its employees was evident when it was listed among Mississippi Business Journal’s Best Places to Work for 2010. The men and women of Ross & Yerger are a group of professionals dedicated to their families, churches, political and civic organizations. Employee teams have participated in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation walk since 2002, and the company has received the small business fund raising award several times. The employees stay involved out of a desire to connect with the community in which they live and work, and because they believe this type of caring makes them sensitive to the needs of their colleagues and clients, both professionally and personally. 

Quality of service is a Ross & Yerger mark of distinction. The staff members are all dedicated to their profession, and they are determined to handle every client’s business with the highest professional standards. As a matter of fact, in preparation of the company’s 150th anniversary celebration, a review of the Ross & Yerger’s past made it clear that the same dedication to clients’ needs that existed in the 1800s still sets them apart today.

The trust and appreciation Ross & Yerger has cultivated in its relationships with its clients over the years contributed to it being named one of National Underwriter’s “Commercial Agency of the Year” for 2009. Awarded to only three insurance agencies across the country on an annual basis, the honor is a highly competitive and coveted one. The company has also been ranked one of Mississippi Business Journal’s “Fast 40,” which recognizes the 40 fastest-growing private companies in the state.

While celebrating the past, Ross & Yerger is very much focused on the future. Ross & Yerger agents are continually building trust with their clients by being genuinely interested in the unique challenges they are facing. Ross & Yerger agents can be called on for ideas on safety programs, E-mod management, contractual risk management, OSHA training suggestions and more.  The company also features an in-house expert team that stays up-to-date on laws and regulations that affect their clients’ business decisions. 

In March 1990, Ross & Yerger added a branch in Tupelo following a merger with Hutto & Associates. In 2002, Ross & Yerger employees purchased the firm. “The future looks good for us,” said Wooley. “We feel good about it. As an independent agency, we control our own destiny. We have no one but ourselves to hold responsible.”

Wooley said the future of the company is assured through the design and implementation of a perpetuation plan.

“We’ve had a great run since we bought the agency in 2002,” he said. Our people roll in here every day, ready to work. And new producers are eager and willing to buy stock from those retiring. We look forward to a bright future ahead.”


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