By Pat Shaver
CORALVILLE—Next month, a new building in Coralville will open its doors, bringing 300 jobs with it.
Sedgwick Claims Management, a Memphis, Tenn.-based company, has been busy hiring in the Corridor the last several months. The company has been hiring and training out of a temporary facility until the brand-new building opens in early July.
The 40,000-square-foot building is set to open in July near the University of Iowa Research Park in Coralville, off the corner of Coral Ridge Avenue and University Parkway. The facility has room for about 325 employees
David North, Sedgwick president and CEO, said it was an easy decision to expand in the Corridor. The company has a facility in Dubuque that has seen success over the past seven years and continues to hire.
“One reason for our success is our customers from all over the country, large corporations, wanted to see what we did so they visited Dubuque,” he said. “Our customers saw what we saw, that the colleagues we hire in Iowa have an incredibly good work ethic and are strong in customer service.”
The job openings include: customer service representatives, disability claims specialists, leave specialists, nurse case managers and management, technical and support roles. Employees in the Coralville facility will focus on claims and productivity management programs.
“What attracted us to Iowa City and Coralville is there’s the same workforce as Dubuque, with the added incentive of being located in the vicinity of the University of Iowa,” he said, adding that the decision is also part of a strategy to locate offices in college towns that offer a more diverse workforce.
The company’s president and CEO, though based in Tennessee, lives in Bellevue with his family, south of Dubuque along the Mississippi River. Since he travels a majority of the time, he and his wife decided they could settle anywhere. They stumbled upon Bellevue while visiting family and decided to move their family there.
Sedgwick specializes in workers’ compensation; disability, Family and Medical Leave Act and other employee absence claims. The company provides claims and productivity management solutions. The company employs about 11,000 people at 200 offices in the U.S. and Canada.
“Our success is directly related to the work colleagues do in the offices every day. We make promises, meet and exceed those promises, and people are likely to tell their friends. We’ve been very fortunate that our colleagues around the country do what they say they’re going to do and they do it well,” Mr. North said.
The company’s growth has been mostly organic, with little acquisition growth, he noted.
“We’re a customer service-oriented company. We work for large entities, as a result of that we open up offices in various parts of the country, based on where the customer is,” he said.
For example, if a customer at a retail store falls, or a child is injured from a product, customer service is an important part of dealing with those issues for the retailer.
“It used to be that the claims business was very much thought of as insurance claims adjusting,” he said. “Today, the customers we do business with think about us in terms of providing service solutions to problems they have. It’s not just an insurance claim, it’s a customer service issue for that retailer.”
Mr. North recently spoke about the workforce during an event in the Iowa.
“It sounds hokey, but I told the parents and grandparents in the audience ‘you’re the ones responsible for us being here,’” he said. “The things that make Iowa workers what they are is what attracted us to Iowa.”
Sedgwick offers competitive compensation, full benefits package including medical, dental, disability, vision, flexible paid time off and a comfortable work environment, he said.
“I can teach them to be claims professionals. What I can’t teach them is to be good human beings,” he said.
The company tentatively hopes to be moved into the new building July 1, he said.
“This is a tough economy and a tough world and diverse workforce. Everybody who came to work today at Sedgwick came for a different reason. All of those are valid reasons,” he said. “Employers have to work really hard because there is a great deal of diversity in why people come to work and you have to listen carefully to them.”
Originally from Detroit, Mr. North has a background in fire protection and firefighting. His father, grandfather and other family members were firefighters in the Detroit area, he said.
After high school, he enrolled in the U.S. Air Force to receive an education and learn about firefighting. He’s been CEO of Sedgwick for 18 years and has had a long career in insurance claims administrator roles.
“I tell people I still fight fires today, it’s just a different kind of fire,” he said.