HARRISBURG, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Penn National Insurance reported today that CEO Kenneth R. Shutts has announced his planned retirement date of Dec. 31, 2014, capping a career spanning 35 years with Penn National Insurance, and that Christine Sears has been elected president & CEO-elect by the company’s board of directors.
Shutts is retiring after seven years as president of the company. Under Shutts, Penn National Insurance achieved profitable growth in its core business, developed a more comprehensive product portfolio, and embarked on a geographic expansion of the company’s operating footprint.
Shutts said: “The breadth, experiences, and fulfillment of a career are determined not only by the quality of the organization that one works for, but just as importantly by the lifelong friendships one forms with, and quality of character of, the colleagues one works with at the company. I can say unequivocally, that I have enjoyed the best of both during my career of 35 years at Penn National Insurance.”
Lead Outside Director John H. Rhodes said, “We will always be grateful to Ken for his strategic and operational leadership, his vision, his total dedication to furthering the best interests of the company, and for fostering a culture of close working relationships with our agency-partners that will serve our company for decades to come. We are pleased that Ken will continue to serve on the company’s board of directors.”
Christine Sears’ election as president & CEO-elect by the board of directors was in accordance with the company’s management succession plan, which the board had in place. Sears has served as executive vice president & chief operating officer of Penn National Insurance for the last five years.
Dennis C. Rowe, Chairman of the board of directors, said: “Having the pleasure of working with Chris throughout her career at Penn National Insurance, I can personally attest to her credentials to successfully lead the company into the future. Chris’s experience in financial services, to include 11 years as our chief financial officer, and most recently five years as our chief operating officer, has given her an in-depth understanding of the Penn National Insurance enterprise, and the insurance industry as a whole. With Chris as president & CEO, all of our constituencies can look forward to an exciting future.”
Rhodes said: “Penn National Insurance is focused on its core mission: to help individuals, families, and businesses protect their financial security, recover from loss, and confidently meet the future by feeling secure in their coverages with Penn National Insurance. Chris’s successful tenure at Penn National Insurance, which began in 1980, has included her focus on building out Penn National Insurance’s competitive advantages of having underwriting and claims decisions made locally (as close to the scene of action as possible), fostering the unique strength and longevity of the company’s agency relationships, emphasizing strong enterprise risk-management practices, being a data-driven organization, and providing superior service in underwriting and claims through its dedicated, technically proficient employees. These values and practices have helped define the vision of Penn National Insurance.
“It is with great confidence that the Penn National Insurance board of directors affirms that Chris is a person in whom policyholders, agents, business partners, employees, and regulators can place great trust. Chris will continue advancing the core strategies and priorities of Penn National Insurance with integrity and a profound sense of the responsibility that the company exceeds the expectations – financial, regulatory, and community – of all of our stakeholders.”
Sears said: “I am deeply honored to take on this responsibility as our entire organization builds around a commitment to excellence in every aspect of our work. I look forward to working with our board, our management team, and our exceptionally talented employees and agency-partners to create value for all of our stakeholders.”
Sears was raised in the Harrisburg area and earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree (magna cum laude) from the Pennsylvania State University. Sears is a Certified Public Accountant, holds the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter designation from the American Institutes for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters, and has completed the Insurance Executive Development Course of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
Sears was elected president & CEO-elect by unanimous vote of the board of directors of the Pennsylvania National Mutual Casualty Insurance Company (lead company of Penn National Insurance). Her title will change from president & CEO-elect to president & CEO upon Shutts’ retirement on Dec. 31.
Penn National Insurance (www.pennnationalinsurance.com), founded in 1919, in Harrisburg, Pa., sells personal and commercial property-casualty insurance in 11 states, through a network of more than 750 independent agencies. The company wrote $645 million in net written premium in 2013 on $550 million in policyholders’ surplus, and total assets exceeded $1.6 billion. The company employs more than 800 people in its 11-state sales and service territory.