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Travelers brings 350 to Alpharetta
by Bob Pepalis

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Alpharetta Mayor Arthur Letchas welcomes the 350 workers who came from the former Travelers office in Duluth to his city. Shortly after he began speaking, the red Travelers umbrella, a company logo, became a necessity as rain began to fall. (click for larger version)
December 10, 2008
ALPHARETTA The Travelers Companies combined its Alpharetta and Duluth offices into one new facility on Windward Concourse in Alpharetta, bringing 900 employees together in one location.

The property and casualty insurance company merged with the St. Paul Companies in 2004, said Henry Furtick, regional president for Travelers. Four years ago the staffs of the two companies were merged, but he said they were unable to merge the offices at the same time.

"This event today is simply to celebrate the fact we are bringing all the employees together," he said.

After welcoming the new building and the former Duluth workers to Alpharetta, Mayor Arthur Letchas, said it seems like a regular occurrence for businesses such as Travelers to relocate here.

"They had an opportunity to go to another city," he said.

But they chose Alpharetta, despite a higher tax rate. Businesses make that decision because his city has a higher level of services than other metro Atlanta communities, Letchas said. His city's staff also has a higher level of customer service, he added.

Approximately 350 employees switched offices from Satellite Boulevard in Duluth, making a longer commute to work. However, the Alpharetta employees have a new office also. Formerly working in an office building off North Point Parkway, they joined their Duluth counterparts at the Windward Concourse office building.

"I think what we change is obviously the separation of having two offices with the synergy and efficiencies we gain by having everyone together as large as the organization is," Furtick said.

What Alpharetta may gain is the revenue generated in local businesses, such as restaurants Travelers' employees may frequent at lunchtime. Few workers who previously worked in Duluth are likely to move to Alpharetta, so a gain in property tax is unlikely, according to Assistant City Administrator James Drinkard although Mayor Letchas invited them all to consider finding a new home in the city.

Employees work in claims, as underwriters, sales staff and for the different business divisions with The Travelers Companies, Furtick said.

If business needs dictate, the new Alpharetta office could handle additional staff, he said, something neither of the former offices could accommodate.

"One of things that we want to build as part of our operations here is really getting involved, giving back to the community," Furtick said.

That has been shown with employees contributing $68,000 to the United Way campaign and another $66,000 in the annual Multiple Sclerosis walk.

The local offices participated in Habitat for Humanity builds, and already committed to helping build a home in Milton at Centennial Walk, the closest build to the Windward Concourse office.

"We expect with everybody together, we will do more of that, while still providing the level of service that we are obligated to and committed to for our agents and their customers," Furtick said.

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