As we move forward into our future, we are humbled to look back at our company’s history. We celebrate the milestones reached since 1964 and greatly appreciate the contributions from our producers, associates and companies over the years.
Thank you for being part of the Arlington/Roe family, for we are truly a family business, both literally and figuratively. We hope you enjoy this review of key points in the life and history of our company. We’d love to hear memories from those of you who have traveled with us. We are proud of what we have accomplished and excited about the future. Thank you for your partnership and friendship.
After serving in World War II, Francis Roe took a job with Baker Shoes in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
In 1952, he moved his family to Indianapolis to run the Baker Shoe store on Washington Street.
Francis was the second oldest of seven children. Francis’ older brother, Norman, pursued a career in finance and ultimately found his life-long work as a senior executive with Foremost Insurance Co. A primary product at Foremost was trailer insurance.
One day, Norman asked his brother Francis to travel with him. Seeing potential in the business of insurance, Francis left the security of women’s shoe sales for a life-changing career in insurance and a cut in pay.
Francis Roe began his insurance career as an underwriter trainee with Meridian Insurance Co., Indianapolis, Indiana.
From 1955 to 1964, Francis worked as a field underwriter for Meridian Insurance, State Auto Insurance and then again for Meridian Insurance. When calling on agents, Francis was often asked if he could insure trailers, referred to today as manufactured homes. At that time, trailer insurance was packaged with the purchase loan and normally written through the trailer dealer or bank.
Francis Roe approached Orville Allen, president of State Auto Insurance, and Carl Russell, president of Meridian Insurance, about offering the mobile home coverage to independent insurance agents to sell directly to trailer owners. Both Mr. Allen and Mr. Russell declined.
Shortly after these declinations, Francis received a $25.00 a month raise and he quit, telling his employer, “you must need the money more than I do.” His next bold statement was to Ruth, his wife and mother of five, “Ruth, I just quit my job.”
Francis Roe formed Arlington Insurance Agency as a general agent for Foremost to provide trailer insurance to independent insurance agents.
Norman Roe didn’t see much opportunity in bypassing the dealer to insure trailers, but he gave Francis Roe a contract, and Arlington Insurance Agency was formed on August 13, 1964. At the age of 41, Francis set up shop in the family kitchen and together with Ruth made ends meet. They had five children, a 1949 DeSoto and literally budgeted by putting money in envelopes for gas, food, the mortgage and basic needs. They were on a mission together to build a family-owned business.
Francis bought a small desk big enough to hold a typewriter, used the kitchen table during the day to spread out work and the phone on the wall was equipped with an extra-long cord. Their telephone service was by way of a “party-line” where multiple people shared the same phone line, and their mailing address was 5024 N. Kitley in Indianapolis, Indiana, six blocks away from Arlington High School.
Jim Roe entered the business as a teenager typing policies for his father. Minimum premiums were $15 and commissions ranged from 35% to 40%. Jim earned 25 cents per hour. Francis thought Jim was being overpaid.
Francis took his wife Ruth and their five children in their new Ford automobile on their first family vacation to Lake Fontana, North Carolina.
Francis secured a contract with Western Fire and Casualty out of Ft. Scott, Kansas, which became American States and then Liberty, and he wrote about $40,000 in small commercial business. Arlington Insurance Agency was growing, and the family went on vacation.
In addition to the normal things families pack for vacation, Francis packed a metal box that contained the insurance accounts receivable records so important to his business.
Four years later, Jim left the agency.
He left the agency to work on the company and agency side with Hartford Insurance Co. as a western Kentucky marketing representative, then an independent agent with the Charles Moore Agency in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
$1.3 Million in Premium and 7 Associates
In 1980, Jim rejoined his father and they changed the family business name to Arlington/Roe & Co. Francis and Jim got busy growing the business. They joined the Big “I”, PIA, 1752 Club and Blue Goose.
Jim earned his CPCU designation. They joined NAPSLO in 1981 and AAMGA in 1983. They became a family-owned business on the move
$3.5 Million in Premium and 13 Associates
Arlington/Roe moved to Shorewood Drive just east of 56th and Keystone.
Jim Roe worked with Hugh McGowan, Sr. in writing the Pan American Games held in 1987. The market was hard, and the agency did not have all the players or the markets to take full advantage of the marketplace.
Arlington/Roe would make major associate and market advancements in the years to follow.
$15 Million in Premium and 25 Associates
As a member of the National Association of Professional Surplus Lines Offices (NAPSLO) board of directors, Jim expanded his involvement in the industry from regional to national.
Arlington/Roe moved to 8465 Keystone Crossing. An aviation insurance office was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Vickie Roe, Jim’s wife, joined the agency.
Jim’s service to NAPSLO marked the beginning of his dedication to affect change in the industry at a national level. Aviation grew as a national product for Arlington/Roe. Over the next few years, the Louisville office grew into a full commercial underwriting office.
$59 Million in Premium and 64 Associates
The longstanding relationship with Foremost was moved to American Modern Insurance Group. Jim Roe served as president of the American Association of Managing General Agents, AAMGA.
Arlington/Roe moved to its current home office at 8900 Keystone Crossing in Indianapolis and opened an underwriting office in Geneva, Illinois, purchased Cooling Grumme & Mumford from Indiana Insurance Company, and, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, purchased Witters & Klap.
Andy Roe first and then Patrick Roe, two of Jim’s sons, joined the family-owned agency in the next few years.
$104 Million in Premium and 125 Associates
Arlington/Roe purchased Southern General Agency in Bowling Green, Kentucky, purchased Agents Advantage Network in Nashville, Tennessee, opened an underwriting office in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and hired the first Ohio associate.
Each location came to be because of the talent Jim Roe saw in people who lived there.
$112 Million in Premium and 119 Associates
Arlington/Roe was on the move again after the softening of the market due to the financial crisis.
$158 Million in Premium and 150 Associates
Arlington/Roe purchased Mid-South Insurance in Tennessee establishing roots for its next underwriting office location in Nashville. Additional Ohio insurance talent was secured, and plans were underway for an office in Columbus in 2014.
National Big “I” appointed Arlington/Roe as an excess and surplus errors and omissions insurance provider for their membership E&O program. The Big “I” also endorsed Arlington/Roe’s exclusive data breach and cyber liability program for Big “I” members.
Arlington/Roe had the opportunity to secure talented individuals in both Wisconsin and Minnesota, making those states the next emphasis on expansion.
Katie Roe Weiper became the third of Jim and Vickie Roe’s four children to work at the company, joining her brothers, Andy and Patrick. Christopher Roe pursued his acting career in Chicago and New York theaters and now lives in Uruguay as an entrepreneurial coach.
50-year celebration and $182 Million in Premium
In celebration of the company’s 50th anniversary, the emphasis was placed on giving back. The number of philanthropic efforts were expanded.
An annual insurance internship was funded and launched by Arlington/Roe. Dollars and time were devoted to university insurance education programs and to a great number of state and local insurance associations.
$200 Million and 174 Associates
Signaling another monumental advancement, Arlington/Roe hit record growth and broke the $200-million barrier.
As premium grew, so did the number of associates. The company hired over 20 people that year to keep up with its continued growth.
Acquisition of Several Agencies Across the Midwest
Arlington/Roe continued its growth by purchasing several agencies. The company purchased Indiana Surplus Lines, Central Insurex in Ohio, and Envision Insurance Agencies and Aviation Bock in Illinois.
The company also acquired Robert W. Schmidt, a special-risk broker in Brookfield, Wisconsin. The purchase allowed the company to add a state office in the greater Milwaukee area and effectively doubled the Wisconsin staff. The acquisition brought expanded access to Wisconsin independent agents.
The COVID-19 Global Pandemic Hits
In March, Arlington/Roe quickly formulated a response plan to the developing coronavirus pandemic. The company moved to a virtual work environment, with nearly all 187 associates in all offices working from home. The transition was quick and smooth, and there were little to no interruptions in how associates conducted business.
Arlington/Roe is projected to end the year with a new premium milestone of $215 million and 191 associates.