“It was emotional for him, to realize that dream,” says Jeff O’Neill, remembering a coworker who had recently transferred to Alliant’s Spokane office from another city. “The job was a lateral move within the company, but he went from overpaying for rent to buying his first home, and he’s really thriving here.”
It’s a bright Friday morning in a top-floor conference room downtown, sun pouring in through the south facing windows. Employees are bustling around, getting things done for clients in the world of property & casualty, employee benefits, home, and auto insurance. But it’s the opening round of the NCAA tournament, and nobody is shy about sporting their college colors, checking the flat screen TVs, or frequenting the break room full of company-provided food.
Jeff is sharing about the bright future of the local insurance company, once known as Moloney & O’Neill. A Spokane institution founded in 1947 by two servicemen back home from the Pacific theater of World War II, Moloney & O’Neill joined Alliant Insurance Services Inc. about four years ago. Since then, they have seen growth from approximately 70 employees to over 170, and they are seeing their team and clients thrive by combining the Spokane context with the resources of a top ten national insurance firm. Jeff and the team are able to provide more jobs and bring more money into Spokane’s economy because of the acquisition — a result that would make his grandfather and co-founder Dick O’Neill proud.
“I love Spokane, and the city itself is honestly the biggest reason we are growing faster than we could’ve imagined, and faster than any other Alliant office around the country,” he says. “This is the basic story I tell at national meetings: the low cost of residential and commercial space, combined with the high quality of life and the talent pool of licensed professionals in the region… it creates conditions to provide excellent service to our clients. We’re a service-based company, rather than product-based, so your workforce matters greatly.”
For these reasons, the Spokane office continues not only to build its clientele locally, capitalizing on its 70-year reputation, but they are now servicing more and more of Alliant’s overall book of business from around the nation. When Alliant executives in Manhattan see the productivity coming out of little Spokane, it’s an easy call to add a desk in a commercial space that is one eighth of the cost, and fill that desk with a highly educated, happy Spokane homeowner, who is more likely to be sitting on a mountain bike than sitting in traffic at 5:30 in the afternoon.
These employees stick around, build expertise, and grow the business. They are paid well for their market and receive great benefits — benefits are, after all, one of Alliant’s specialties. Plus, food and fun at the office are perks the company can afford to provide. Above all, more and more young professionals want to put down roots in a place like Spokane.
Jeff knows this personally, because he has lived it. “I studied finance at UW, and started my career right where I wanted to, as a downtown Seattle businessman,” he remembers. “I didn’t last long. The traffic, the home prices… it’s a great city, but none of that was making sense for me. And this was long before those factors were as difficult as they are now.” Today, he and his wife are raising their young children in Spokane, and even his corner-office job fits within a reasonable work/life balance.
[Spokane] creates conditions to provide excellent service to our clients.
As managing director for Alliant property & casualty for the Northwest, Jeff spends his share of time talking with top executives in Seattle and Portland. Spokane comes up a lot, and he’s more than willing to share the ways his family business has grown and changed, merging the strengths of his hometown with those of a top-performing national company.
“One I-5 corridor client of ours with thousands of employees — I won’t say who — is considering moving their professional services operations to Spokane because of these factors we’re benefiting from,” he says. “I tell our story to clients because we’re business owners too, with the same challenges of hiring and retaining great people, finding excellent office space, and so on. Spokane is uniquely ready to meet those challenges.”