When it comes to serving family and community, The Nitsche Group talks the talk and walks the walk.
The Giddings, Texas-based independent insurance agency’s commitment to family, its employees, its clients and its community is so ingrained that it informs the agency’s business decisions and its attitude toward growth.
With roots dating to 1949, The Nitsche Group now has 10 locations across the state and 125 employees, and serves clients all around Texas and beyond.
“Our main goal right now is to continue to grow but without getting rid of our values as an agency,” said Brigette Burttschell, assistant director of Marketing for The Nitsche Group.
Burttschell’s comment was echoed by CEO Robert Nitsche in a statement announcing in November that the company had been honored by Baylor University’s Institute for Family Business with the 2017 Community Commitment Award. (The institute also named The Nitsche Group as its Medium Family Business of the Year in 2016.)
“In our family, running a business is about far more than making money,” Nitsche said. “It’s about maintaining a culture that cares about people. It’s about giving back to a community that has given us so much. It’s about doing what we think is right, even if it’s not reflected in the bottom line.”
Burttschell said the agency was somewhat surprised to win the award this year. She said the group keeps an eye out for awards that might be a fit for the agency, so they submitted an application for the community commitment award “to see if we’d get anywhere. … We’re not one of the biggest family businesses, so we weren’t really expecting to make it that far. But we are actually very happy and very honored to have won the community commitment award. It just kind of goes back to the roots of our agency being in a small town and just taking care of one another.”
Community Involvement, Positive Impact
The Nitsche Group supports myriad causes in the communities in which it operates — scholarships, trust funds, food banks, Blue Santa drives, military packages, to name a few. “Anything that we think can make an impact on someone, we try to do that,” Burttschell said.
One of the main charitable events it supports annually is the American Cancer Association’s Relay for Life. Employees raised nearly $7,000 this year to help with the fight against cancer, and the agency kicked in another $1,000 for the cause.
Employees put on fundraisers all year to gather contributions for the Relay. “That’s just a huge effort by our employees,” Burttschell said.
“We have employees that come together for bake sales … we also have employees that will donate items, like gift cards or something, and they’ll sell tickets for a raffle. Those go over pretty well. As an agency we’ll offer days for casual dress … instead of wearing business attire, if people would like to donate $5 they can wear jeans,” she said. “We do basket drives. Everyone donates a basket of goodies and we have an auction within the agency. That raised a pretty good amount of money this year. And then just small things, day-to-day, like, ‘hey, I baked cookies, if ya’ll want to buy some cookies come by and the money supports Relay for Life.’”
The Harvey Effect
The Nitsche Group also extended many helping hands in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, to communities and individuals that were severely impacted by the storm. While Giddings, a town with a population of around 5,600 situated 55 miles east of Austin, received an enormous amount of rain when Harvey stalled over the area, for the most part the community as a whole was spared from the worst of the storm’s wrath.
However, Burttschell said, one Giddings neighborhood had to be evacuated and around 60 people were out of their houses for one or two weeks. The Nitsche Group sprang into action right away, helping to set up a facility where the evacuees could stay. The agency gathered supplies — cots, blankets, towels, whatever was needed — to help them settle in, “because the Red Cross couldn’t get here immediately, and they didn’t have supplies.”
Individual employees also gave their time and energy to recovery efforts after Harvey — helping with clean up efforts, raising money for cleaning supplies and food for those affected by the storm, joining rescue operations along the coast, providing feed and shelter for displaced livestock, and providing support for first responders, among other things.
While the group’s Giddings headquarters was only slightly impacted by the storm, the agency was prepared with a contingency plan in place.
“A few days before Hurricane Harvey made landfall we met to discuss what all we need to be taking care of, what to expect. We do have an offsite contingency plan where we fall back to the Austin office. I think we have a few other contingency plans dependent upon what offices are hit that IT has set up for us. And then we also had people on call, where if it got too bad they could come in and take calls from clients, direct them where they need to go to get help or start the claims process,” Burttschell said.
For those employees in branch offices that were expected to be hardest hit by the hurricane — in Corpus Christi and other locations along the coast — “our account managers and our producer team reached out to them just to let them know, ‘hey, we will be here. Evacuate if you’re told to evacuate and we’ll help you with the claims processes afterwards.’”
That “take care of your family, take care of your community” attitude drives the agency’s decision-making, Burttschell said.
“Family is very important here. It’s just continued throughout the years. It always comes back to making sure we take care of our employees and communities that we’re in,” she said.