Ollis Akers Arney Insurance & Business Advisors is one of the oldest businesses in Springfield. The company’s first office was started in 1885 by the great grandfather of current CEO, Richard Ollis, and his two brothers. In 130 years, the Ollis Akers Arney office has only had two locations. The first office was located on Commercial Street and operated there for over 90 years. “We’re an old north side family. Four generations of our family grew up within blocks of Commercial Street,” says Ollis.
The company’s Springfield office is now located on Sunshine Street. “We’re longtime investors in this community,” says Ollis. “We’re exceptionally dedicated to our clients, the community, and our staff.”
At the beginning of Richard Ollis’s tenure in the 1980s, the company started an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), making the transition from a family-owned company to an employee-owned company. “We were one of the first employee-owned organizations not only in the community but in the country,” says Ollis. “ESOP’s have only been around since the late seventies or early eighties.”
“We really value that model,” Ollis continues. “We are one hundred percent owned by our employees. It’s not only financial ownership but also emotional ownership. It creates a very solid and effective team and also really benefits our clients. When they call or have an issue, they’re talking to an owner and someone who is fully invested in the company’s and the client’s success.”
“It’s a plan that benefits everyone in our organization,” Ollis stresses. “It rewards longevity and commitment to our company and our clients. It’s a core part of our company and, frankly, our family.” He mentions that the family has never been interested in selling out to a larger corporation or venture capitalists.
Along with implementing the ESOP, Ollis Akers Arney also moved from a transactional company that sold insurance products to a consultative company that advises companies and business clients about their risk and how to mitigate or eliminate that risk. “Insurance just became an outcome of what we did,” says Ollis. “Our employee benefits practice has also evolved. We consult with our clients on how to effectively implement and communicate the benefits they offer. The main focus is on the attraction and retention of talent for that company. We really focus holistically on the risk profile and the individual goals of our clients.”
Ollis also discovered that many clients were struggling with human resource issues. It seemed logical to establish a human resource consulting division to offer human resources consulting and wellness services to area businesses.
The company continues to grow with offices in Branson, Bolivar, and El Dorado Springs, in addition to the Springfield office, with plans for even more expansion. “We continue to look for partners and locations that will be a good fit for what we offer and how we go about approaching the marketplace,” says Ollis. “We want to expand our brand of employee ownership and being local business people in local communities.”
“We are exceptionally dedicated to our clients and the communities that we serve,” says Ollis. Ollis Akers Arney boasts that five employees have served as chairman of local chambers of commerce at different times. Currently Edd Akers is running for mayor of Branson and Richard Ollis serves on Springfield City Council. “We really want to be a part of our community’s growth and success,” says Ollis.
Whataburger launched its second local store; Branson shop Revive Juice and Coffee Bar LLC moved; and a new Monett branch of the Barry-Lawrence Regional Library District opened.