Staff file photo / Chad Eichelberger, president of Reliance Partners, talks at a Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Reliance Partners, one of the nation's fastest-growing commercial insurance agencies focused on transportation and logistics, credits its "rock star team" for its ability to grow so quickly.

"Our 'culture first' mentality prioritizes the human experience within the workplace in order to support, engage, and empower the people who work here," says Laura Ann Howell, the company's chief operating officer. "In turn, our client-facing operations reach success because our employees are the ones who feel the love first."

Reliance Partners was incorporated in 2009 by a team of former transportation industry executives and founders of asset-based trucking companies. Howell says that Reliance brings an energetic startup culture to an old-school industry, which she calls a competitive advantage in an evolving market.

"In truth, we seek to embody the next generation of insurance professionals and we wear our identity with pride in every aspect — from casual attire that promotes a relaxed atmosphere to a culture-first approach that creates a theme of innovation and tech-enabled improvements on outdated industry standards," she says.

Howell says the key to the Reliance approach lies within the framework of prioritizing diversity. She says the company not only incubates leaders from within, regardless of age or background, but also turns traditional boardroom conversations inside out.

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Photo contributed by Reliance Partners / Reliance Partners Chief Operating Officer Laura Ann Howell

"With more than 20 nationalities represented, 25 languages spoken, a 52% female workforce and a multi-generational employee base, Reliance is noticeably different from our competitors in an industry that is undergoing a major shift in demographics," Howell says.

She says that wherever there's diversity of heritage and diversity of age, there's diversity in thought, as well.

"Consequently, all of these factors create an active environment for rapid growth, innovative decision-making and best-in-class customer service," Howell says.

Also, she says, what Reliance does is directly related to its status as a fast-growing, privately held company.

"It's because we know trucking, we know freight," she says. "In fact, our leadership team is comprised of former transportation industry leaders and founders of asset-based trucking companies. So, where we differ from 'more traditional insurance players' is in our team's ability to empathize with risk management challenges present in today's marketplace on a personal level."

Howell says when the coronavirus pandemic began to emerge in early March, the company quickly began doing everything it could to keep employees safe.

Reliance Partners

* Founded: 2009

* Employees: 140 companywide; 95 in Chattanooga

* Why this is a Best Place to Work: Our mantra has always been ‘people, not employees,’ so the human experience is priority for us. This way of thinking allows us to not only cultivate a workforce that is culturally diverse and multi-generational, but one that is forward-thinking and driven by excellence.

* Online:



"We were able to quickly leverage our proven telework solution across our entire team," she says. "The end result was a seamless operation that allowed us the opportunity to provide our team with a smooth transition to an at-home work structure. In addition to facilitating a health-conscious telework solution early on, we also provide various services via our Employee Assistance Programs to support the varying needs of our team during these stressful and uncertain times."

Going forward, Reliance is striving to be a leading employer in the insurance industry, the company official says.

"Clients have always demanded exceptional products and services from companies. But the expectations that employees have for the companies they work for have changed and evolved over time. Today's workforce is no different," she says.



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