About Bell Insurance
From the beginning, when Bell Insurance was founded as Warner and Company in 1911, the agency cultivated a culture of caring for our customers – and the community.
A History of Helping Others
Since 1911, Bell Insurance – formerly called Warner and Company – has been a large part of the story of Fargo, N.D., sharing in the excitement of growth and persevering together through tragedy.
We were there on June 6, 1926, when Fargo was termed a “thriving city” on the 33rd anniversary of the 1893 fire. We were there when oil was discovered in North Dakota in 1951, bringing many new people to the state. And we were there June 20, 1957, when a devastating tornado ripped through town. In paying out $2.5 million as a result of the storm, we were able to help the community rebuild.
“Because of the prompt and satisfactory manner in which our losses were handled, we made many lasting friends,” Raymond D. Warner, the agency’s founder, is remembered as saying.
A Look Back
The year was 1911. Raymond Warner was the son of a Canadian livestock breeder, a Cass County pioneer. With the hopes of forming a lasting insurance agency, Raymond partnered with Alonzo Rupert. Together, they opened their first office at 609 NP Avenue, downtown Fargo.
In 1962, Clarence McDonald joined the company, becoming its second president. Five decades came and went. Other partners joined - some brothers, some business associates - yet all were considered family.
It was this philosophy that led to today's Warner and Company - financial stability for employees and exceptional service for customers.
Fast forward to 1964. A young man named Harry Hayer joins as an underwriter in training. The most historical event took place in the early '70s with the formation of Warner Investment Corporation by its principal shareholder Harry Hayer. In 1974, Harry purchased all assets from Warner and Company's current owner, Continental Corporation. With Harry's leadership, Warner Investments received assets that have performed very well over the years.
Seeing his father's tenacity through the years, it seemed natural that Brian would join the company. And it was. Fresh out of college in 1986, Brian brought along the same commitment to community and financial responsibility - now, the company's current president.
Caring for Customers & the Community
More than a century of caring for customers as friends is part of what led to Warner and Company receiving the National Jeffrey Butland Family Owned Business of the Year award by the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber’s Choice Business of the Year, both in 2012.
Innovative practices the company implemented, such as being the first agency in the nation to write a single business policy combining multiple coverages, were another reason for the recognition.
One of the area’s pioneers, Raymond D. Warner was active in the community from the beginning. He was part of the original Chamber of Commerce group in 1911. And we have records dating back to 1922 of corporate and personal donations from employees to what is now the United Way.
“They had 100% employee participation, even back in the 1920s,” remarks Brian Hayer, Bell Insurance managing director and the fourth president in Warner and Company’s more than 100-year history.
That tradition of community involvement is one that continues today. With fewer than 30 employees, the insurance company made the United Way’s 2019 list of the 50 most generous workplaces. And in the 1990s, Brian chaired the United Way’s fundraising campaign.
Uniting 2 Longtime Fargo Companies
A culture of corporate giving and community service is part of what made Warner and Company such a great fit for Bell Bank (which is also on the United Way’s 50 most generous workplaces list) when Bell acquired Warner and Company and the business’ other full-service agencies – Schiller Insurance in Detroit Lakes and Thompson-Schaefer Insurance Agency in Grand Forks – in January of 2019.
“There was such perfect alignment of what both companies value,” Brian affirms. “Our teams share the values of community involvement and ethical decision-making. We treat employees like family. Our core values haven’t changed since the beginning, and it’s the same with Bell.”
“Warner has a century-long commitment to building our community and treating people the right way. It was a fantastic culture fit for our 2 companies,” comments Michael Solberg, Bell president and CEO.
Many independent insurance agencies are being purchased by large, national firms. Warner and Company had received other offers, but Brian says he wanted to make sure his employees would be taken care of. Expanding into insurance also complemented the other financial services Bell provides.
Insurance is an important part of a solid financial plan. To find out if you have the right coverage – or if you could save money on the coverage you have – get a free, no-obligation insurance checkup from a company you already trust. Call our office at 800-369-2501 or request a quote online.