How it all began

By on March 4, 2010 at 8:48 AM

Posted in: Odds & Ends

Imagine yourself in the mid-1930s – the Great Depression – as a 50-ish mid-level insurance executive in Fort Worth, Texas. You’ve gone as far as you can go in your company – it only allows ex-military folks to hold the top jobs, and you never served. What do you do?

That was the situation Leo Goodwin was in. Most of us, in Leo’s shoes, would probably hang in there at least until the economy improved, and maybe longer – retirement age wouldn’t be too far off. But that’s not what Leo did. He left USAA and started his own insurance company. Crazy, right?

Crazy like a fox, it turned out. Goodwin chose to target federal employees, figuring that they were more likely than most to remain employed even in tough times, and be able to pay their premiums. He also chose a direct business model, as opposed to the agency model that’s still prevalent today.

And he worked his tail off. In 1936, he settled on the Government Employees Insurance Company name and moved his fledgling business to Washington, D.C., his target market’s primary employment center. With his new bride, Lillian, they ran the business from their kitchen table – in the red, mostly, for the first few years. But by 1941, the company was profitable. By the time Leo Goodwin retired in 1958, GEICO was well on its way to becoming what we are now – the third-largest auto insurer in the nation.

We should all be so crazy.

6 responses to “How it all began

  1. Megan says:

    Please, please please air more of the Kash commercials!!!!! I’m so crazy about the song. It’s my fav geico commercials. My friends and I all love it!!!!!!

  2. Joseph says:

    Hi Greg, I thought you guys might get a kick out of the video that we put up on Youtube with my (almost) 2 year old grandson and I doing a Geico bit. We think its really funny. If you go to Youtube and type in WOULD MAKE A GREAT GEICO COMMERCIAL, you’ll see it. Let me know what you think! Thanks & have a great day!………….Joseph

  3. James Moran says:

    Thats why Geico is rated behind USAA!! Anybody who has USAA can tell you that!

  4. Chris Catlin says:

    Any executives or associates have any extra Geico Gecko Pez Dispensers? I am in desperate need of some!!!!!Please tell me how to get these! Email me at hugccpleez@yahoo.com asap.

  5. PENNY says:

    HELLO, WHY IN GODS NAME IS THERE NOTHING ON THEIR, SON, LEO, WHO DIED  UNTIMELY AT 22, YEARS, OLD..HE WAS THE BEST…..
    HE WAS BORN ON JANUARY 4TH…

  6. nip morgan says:

    THEIR SON WAS SO COOL!!