No radical changes planned for Mutual

Stability has been treasured at Mutual of Enumclaw, a company that emphasizes success over the long haul and has seen just 10 men at the top during its 111-year history.

With that in mind, Eric Nelson plans no radical changes as he prepares to take the reigns as the 11th chief executive officer Jan. 29. He will assume the top post now held by Gerald Schmidt, who will step down the day of the company’s annual policyholder’s meeting.

Nelson’s name floated to the top as the company conducted an intensive search for its new chief executive officer following Schmidt’s decision to retire.

As chief executive officer, his primary duty will be “to make sure our company is sustainable over time,” Nelson said during a Friday telephone interview.

“We’re very attuned to long-term success,” Nelson said. “We manage for the long term and we manage very conservatively. Some day, we’d like to be a 500-year-old company.”

Nelson said it’s the company’s attention to detail and commitment to customer service that has landed Mutual of Enumclaw on the national Top 10 list when it comes to customer satisfaction.

For example, when a customer dials the Mutual call center, there’s a live voice on the other end, he said, rather than a long series of computerized prompts.

Nelson said the company also benefits from the fact that it derived as a “mutual,” meaning it is owned by policyholders rather than stockholders.

“We exist for their benefit and the benefit of our employees,” Nelson said.

It’s that orientation that persuaded Nelson to come to Mutual of Enumclaw nine years ago.

An Oregon native and graduate of Oregon State University, he has been with the company nine years and has served the past year as senior vice president.

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