Printed on: December 09, 2012

Employees take helm at Hartwell Corp.

By Zach Kyle
zkyle@postregister.com

Idaho Falls-based insurance provider The Hartwell Corp. is now employee-owned.

The move came after the retirement of founder Ralph Hartwell and his wife, Executive Vice President Mary Lynn Hartwell. The ownership transition was finalized Nov. 1.

The company has 42 employees split between its Idaho Falls and Caldwell offices. The original office in Idaho Falls will celebrate its half-centennial in 2013.

DeRay Perry, who has worked as a corporation executive at the Idaho Falls office, will take over as president.

Chief Financial Officer Lisa Miller, who joins Perry as one of the three officers, said the Hartwells fielded offers from other insurance agencies interested in acquiring the company.

The Hartwells opted to sell -- at a lower price -- to their employees to ensure corporation leadership remains local, Miller said.

Miller, who has been with Hartwell for 22 years, said she considered Ralph Hartwell a mentor.

"(The Hartwells) will still be involved in the community, and if we have questions, we can certainly call them," she said. "But to not have Ralph's day-to-day presence will be different."

Miller said the corporation doesn't plan to shake up its business plan. She does hope, however, that employees will feel more of a connection to the corporation's success now that they own stock in the company.

"The way we do our day-to-day operations isn't going to change at all," Miller said. "But all employees now have a vested interest in everything we do."

Zach Kyle can be reached at 542-6746. Comment on this story on Post Talk at www.postregister.com/posttalk/.