Location and hours:
Bernard Williams &Company is located at 6001 Chatham Center Dr. Our hours are Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m, with availability at all times in the event of an emergency.
How long have you been in business?
The company was founded in 1934 by Bernard F. Williams. His son, Alan Williams, senior vice president, answered our questions.
How many employees do you have?
We currently have 30 employees.
How would you describe your business?
Bernard Williams &Company is an independent insurance agency providing products and services to over 4,000 clients throughout the southeastern U.S.
How has your business changed over the years?
The insurance business has become increasingly complex in recent years, but good service and professional advice are still fundamental requirements. We use cutting-edge technology in our operations, but the quality of our agents and support staff is still our greatest asset.
What has been your biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?
Insurance is a very competitive business at all times. Through excellent service and properly designed coverages, we have been able to develop a reputation as an agency that looks out for the best interests of our clients. In return, our clients have been loyal and have allowed us the opportunity to stay in business for more than 80 years. We are also very conservative in the financial management of the company and this has allowed us to weather several periods of severe economic recession. We are currently one of the two oldest locally owned insurance agencies in Savannah.
What aspect of the business are you most proud of?
We are most proud of the experience and professionalism of our employees. Our staff has over 600 years of combined training and experience. No other insurance agency in Savannah can claim that.
Stalwart is defined as “marked by outstanding strength and vigor; loyal, hardworking and reliable.” What is it about your business that makes it a Savannah stalwart?
We hope that Bernard Williams &Company will remain a locally owned and managed company. Several of our competitors have sold to out-of-town corporations and the focus of those agencies seems to change after a few years. We are committed to our clients, our employees and the local communities that we serve. However, we will have to continue to emphasize professionalism, service and value if we are to continue to remain independent.
What do you hope for the future of your business?
The mission of our company - “to shield our clients from financial loss” - has guided us for 82 years. This has been made possible by the blood, sweat and tears of numerous employees, beginning with Bernard Williams in 1934. Our current CEO, Dick Williams, started with the agency in 1966. He still works every week, including Saturdays. His work ethic drives the rest of us to do our best at all times. We are all strong believers in Free Enterprise, and are thankful to be blessed with a great staff, loyal clients, and a diverse and prospering local economy. Our plan for the future? Full Speed Ahead!
ABOUT THE SERIES
As 2016 comes to a close, the Savannah Morning News, Business in Savannah and savannahnow.com have selected several longtime Savannah companies and organizations that have contributed tremendously, many of them for decades, in the local business environment.
The Business in Savannah staff chose the honorees from a list of nominees submitted by local business and community members, utilizing broad criteria — from growth and success to community involvement.
Tuesday: Kirschner Furs
Wednesday: NLaws Produce
Today: Bernard Williams &Co.