The heavy, cast-iron bell that resides in the atrium of Haas & Wilkerson Insurance company headquarters holds many meanings for the employees and customers of Haas & Wilkerson Insurance.
A Family Treasure
The cast-iron bell that currently resides in the atrium of Haas & Wilkerson Insurance company headquarters has an inscription of 1860. During the early 1900s, the bell could be found in rural Independence, Missouri, on the Wilkerson family farm. At that time the bell was used to call hired hands and family back in from the fields for meals, or to alert everyone to important news, such as a pending storm or the arrival of a visitor.
After college Ralph Wilkerson moved from the farm to the greater Kansas City area where he relocated the bell to the backyard of his family home. The bell was a family treasure, a symbol of simpler times. It was a favorite of the Wilkerson’s children, grandchildren and neighbors.
A Symbol of Change and Future Success
In 2006 Ryan Wilkerson, our chief executive officer and third generation Wilkerson to lead the company, relocated the bell to Haas & Wilkerson Insurance’s headquarters building in Fairway, Kansas. Today it summons Haas & Wilkerson Insurance employees to hear the good news of new hires, new clients and numerous special celebrations. It serves as an important link to the Wilkerson family, it is an integral part of the company, and its image has been incorporated into the company’s graphic identity.
A Unique Link to the Origins of the Insurance Industry
The bell also serves as a link to the origins of the insurance industry.
The Lutine Bell at Lloyd’s of London is synonymous with Lloyd’s and the beginning of the insurance industry. The insurance industry traces its origins to a coffeehouse owned by Edward Lloyd, where ships’ captains, ship owners and merchants used to meet and arrange insurance for their vessels and cargoes.
A merchant with a ship to insure would request a “broker” to take the policy from one wealthy merchant to another until the risk was fully covered. The broker’s skill lay chiefly in ensuring that policies were underwritten only by people of sufficient financial integrity, people who could meet their share of a claim, if need be, to the full extent of their personal fortunes. Lloyd encouraged a clientele of ships’ captains, merchants, ship owners and others with an interest in overseas trade.
La Lutine was a ship that sunk in October 1799 off the Dutch coast. Lloyd’s underwriters bore the loss. In 1858 the bell was recovered from the seabed and hung up in Lloyd’s offices. A famous tradition began: when a ship was overdue or lost, it was struck once. When a ship believed lost was found to be safe, it was struck twice.
Unlike the Lutine bell, which is rarely rung today, Haas & Wilkerson Insurance’s bell rings often symbolizing the company’s current success and future growth.