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Native American business garners number one spot

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SANTA ANA, N.M. – For AMERIND Risk Management Corp., “family-friendly” is a natural extension of the company’s basic business mission.

The Pueblo of Santa Ana, N.M.-based AMERIND was established by more than 165 Native American housing authorities in 1986 and has grown to protect the housing, families and employees of more than 450 tribes. This year’s top-ranked company among small insurers in the Business Insurance Best Places to Work in Insurance ranking is a multi-tribal federal corporation formed to protect those tribes, their treasuries and their enrolled members from unforeseen or catastrophic financial loss using self-insurance and other risk-sharing strategies.

“As a company that protects tribes across the United States, and tribes having a rich history of caring for and protecting its extended family, we conduct our daily business life and responsibility for our employees at AMERIND in the same context that represents extended family,” said Kent Paul, AMERIND’s chief executive officer.

“Following Native American culture and traditions, we pride ourselves on the fact that families come first here,” said Rod Crawley, AMERIND’s chief operating officer.

Among other things, Paul cited the AMERIND “85 – 15 rule.” Employees are accountable for their work and spend 85 percent of their work time devoted to customer service and job performance, but are also expected to spend the other 15 percent of their time in non-business activities such as socializing with their co-workers.

“If we are to operate like an extended family and develop family bonds, employees need time to interact with each other. We want to encourage the art of personal communication other than texting and e-mailing,” Paul said.

“This philosophy has proven to be very fruitful as productivity, customer relationships and camaraderie among employees continues to improve and prosper,” Crawley said.

“We really promote small gatherings, potlucks, committees work together, getting away from your desk 15 percent of the time to socialize, really get to know your neighbor,” said Stefanie Suazo, director of Human Resources. “It’s a proven fact that satisfied employees produce better results and care more about the company and its vision and mission.”

Utilizing risk management principles, AMERIND protects life and property of participating tribes from fire, natural disasters and other unforeseen events. The company operates exclusively within Native American reservations in 32 states.

Paul noted that with each tribe having its own traditions, “cultural sensitivity” is more of a challenge for AMERIND than for many companies, but one the company takes seriously. “We don’t have to keep up with just four or five minorities; we potentially have to keep up with the customs and traditions of more than 500 independent, sovereign communities.”

As a multi-generational company, with an age span of probably 50 years between the oldest and youngest employees, AMERIND also recognizes the value of what its employees of various generations can learn from one another, Crawley said.

Overall, AMERIND recognizes that a high-quality workplace means better client service.

“When Kent came aboard, one of the things he wanted to promote is that happy employees are more productive,” Crawley said.

“As a chief executive officer, my role isn’t any more important than anyone else’s role in the company,” Paul said. “We all have very important business responsibilities and if one of us fails, the whole organization fails and failure is not an option. At AMERIND, we value our diversity and embrace the ideas that are shared from the diversity. It is the key ingredient that makes AMERIND strong and the best place to work.”

The board of directors chairman spent some time with staff and remarked about their accomplishments.

“Being number one, you are observed. They ask businesses just who AMERIND is and they’ve answered talking about your enthusiasm, dedication to the company and it has paid off,” said Joel M. Frank Sr.

Frank is an enrolled member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and serves his people as director of Inter-governmental Affairs.

AMERIND Risk Management Corporation celebrated its 23rd anniversary in October and looks forward to assisting in keeping neighborhoods and communities safe.