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Tim Walsh now leads American National.
Tim Walsh now leads American National.

American National fills gap left by longtime CEO departure

Posted online

Greg Ostergren quietly left his longtime post as CEO of American National on Dec. 19, and after delayed responses to Springfield Business Journal’s inquiries company officials now say the executive responsibilities have been shuffled.

Tim Walsh is the newly appointed CEO over all operations, and Springfield-based Shannon Smith continues to oversee agency operations as chief agencies officer.

In Ostergren’s roughly 26 years leading American National, he also served as board chairman of the company’s Springfield-based subsidiary of the same name. James Pozzi, president and CEO of the Texas-based parent American National Insurance Co. (Nasdaq: ANAT), has taken over as chairman.

Reached by SBJ at his Galveston, Texas, office, Pozzi said Ostergren’s departure would not impact additional staffing in Springfield.

“All of his duties will be assumed by existing employees in the corporation,” Pozzi said. “The plan we were on the day before Greg left the company is still the plan we were on the day after Greg left the company; we just reassigned duties.”

Company officials said the board received notification from Ostergren, but citing the corporation’s personnel policy, declined to disclose his stated reason. Ostergren could not be reached in repeated attempts through a family member and a colleague.

“We wish him well. He was with us for a long time and did a great job,” Pozzi said. “It’s up to him if he wants to make any comment on what he’s doing.”

According to others, Ostergren has immediate travel plans.

“He is going on a trip to Asia here in January,” said Bob Fruend, a multiple line general agent in American National’s St. Charles office.

Fruend said he was involved in hiring Ostergren, and he wrote the recommendation letter for SBJ’s Men of the Year honor awarded to Ostergren in 2014.

“He’s just a wonderful man. He’s done a great job,” Fruend said.

American National, formerly known as American National Property and Casualty Co., offers automotive, home, life, commercial and agriculture insurance, according to its website.

The company employs 4,598 nationwide and 921 in the Springfield region, making it the 14th largest employer in the metropolitan statistical area, according to SBJ list research. The company’s local revenue in 2015 was $662.2 million, down 13.5 percent from $765.2 million in 2014.

Shares of ANAT stock have traded above $100 since late February and recorded a 52-week high of $131.99 on Dec. 8. A five-year low of $64.17 was recorded in November 2012. Its most recent quarterly earnings were up 41 percent to $59.3 million in the third quarter, compared with $42 million in the same period in 2015. However, for the nine months ending Sept. 30, net income was down 33 percent to $121.2 million.

Pozzi said he’s confident in the experiences of Walsh and Smith to succeed Ostergren.

“Tim Walsh will take on everything other than the agency operations. Shannon Smith, who has been responsible for agency operations, had reported to Greg previously and now will report to me directly,” Pozzi said.

New Springfield CEO Walsh – who will continue to work from the Galveston headquarters – joined American National in 2001 when the company bought Farm Family, his former employer. Walsh most recently worked as senior vice president and chief operating officer of American National’s multiple line division and as president and CEO of American National subsidiary Farm Family, according to Chief Marketing Officer Scott Campbell.

Smith plans to remain in Springfield, where he has held the agency operations position for eight years, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Web Producer Geoff Pickle contributed.

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