There are not many companies that can say they have been around for 90 years while consistently giving back to their community.

But this is certainly the case with GHB Insurance, Inc. that has been actively involved with our community since the company’s inception in 1927 and is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year.

GHB’s founder, G.I. Griffith was an organizer for the Community Chest, now known as the United Way. He was also the president of the Chamber of Commerce and gave time and leadership to community groups like the YMCA, the American Legion, Kiwanis and his own church.

GHB’s milestone anniversary caught the attention of Washington State Governor Jay Inslee who noted that GHB Insurance today continues the company’s legacy.

GHB Insurance Food Bank
Annually, GHB Staff volunteer for the United Way Days of Caring, here at the Food Bank. Photo credit: GHB Insurance

“For nine decades, GHB has been committed to providing excellent service, which is clearly evident through your company’s longevity as well as your commitment to supporting the community though involvement with local charities,” Gov. Inslee recently wrote in his letter to Ron Bruchet, GHB’s current owner. The Governor added that Ron and the GHB team “…model sincere generosity and an inspiring spirit of action.”

GHB’s long history is a terrific story of community engagement and for that reason, it is using its 90th anniversary celebration to ask the public to accept a unique challenge.

From the Beginning

It all began in 1926 when H.K. Dant left the Northeastern Mutual Insurance Company to found General Insurance Company of America, now known as Safeco Insurance.

Shortly after, he contacted an old friend and fellow worker at Northeastern, G. I. Griffith, and asked him to become a special agent for Safeco and establish other agencies for the company in southwestern Washington. Griffith agreed, and as part of the development, opened his own insurance agency in Olympia in 1927 offering property/casualty coverage to the marketplace.

According to “Griff” Griffith’s obituary, he later added a real estate department specializing in residential and waterfront property. The original agency grew into a partnership when Frank Hunt joined the firm in the 30s. Hunt served as president of the Rotary Club of Olympia from 1954 to1955.

GHB Insurance Olympia
G.I. Griffith (center), the founder of GHB Insurance, was an organizer for the Community Chest, now called the United Way. Photo credit: GHB Insurance

The company became known as Griffith-Hunt-Burwell after another partner, Trane Burwell, a graduate of Harvard Business School and a U.S. Navy veteran, joined the agency in 1946 after World War II. Burwell was part of many civic activities.

In the 1950s, the company shortened its name to GHB Insurance. After the Thurston County Multiple Listing bureau was organized in 1956, Mr. Griffith served on the board of directors for several years and was a member of the Thurston County Association of Realtors®.

Bill Perkins purchased GHB in 1992, expanding the service offerings to include employee benefits and Individual medical insurance. Ron Bruchet joined the organization in 2001, became President in 2007, ultimately acquiring the company in 2008.

Thriving Today

“We understand we are all in this together,” said Bruchet who, in an interesting parallel to GHB’s founder, has served as the chair of the local Thurston County Chamber of Commerce and currently serves on the United Way of Thurston County board.

GHB staff takes on the same spirit of giving as its original founder and current owner by annually raising thousands of dollars for the United Way through a fun, in-house campaign. GHB received the United Way’s Team Spirit Award for Giving in 2015.

“Giving to the United Way channels resources to many wonderful non-profits like SafePlace, SideWalk and Together! that address genuine solutions to help people,” explained Bruchet. “GHB thrives as our community thrives.”

GHB Insurance
GHB owner Ron Bruchet (grey t-shirt) and his staff are inviting the public to celebrate the company’s 90th anniversary by accepting the GHB Live United Challenge. Photo credit: GHB Insurance

And, thrive GHB has. Over the last decade, GHB has seen its largest growth, expanding its sales division to serve all of Western Washington. With its 30 employees, GHB is currently the largest insurance brokerage south of Tacoma and one of the largest brokerage firms in southwest Washington specializing in employee benefits, individual health insurance, Medicare supplements and property/casualty coverage.

Known for its superior customer service, the company has been voted the Best of South Sound insurance agency for the last two years. Bruchet was honored as a 2016 Boss of the Year by the Thurston Chamber. Washington State Secretary of State Kim Wyman recognized the local company in 2016 for its charitable giving.

Paul Knox, the executive director of the United Way of Thurston County from 2010 to 2017, reiterated the importance of local businesses giving back.

“The heart of a healthy community is engaged people and organizations,” said Knox. “Making this a better place is good for the business and good for the community. GHB is a prime example of that.”

Throwing Down the Challenge

GHB thrives on giving back. That’s why it is asking the community to help celebrate its 90th anniversary—during a 90-day period beginning October 1—by accepting the GHB Live United Challenge to contribute money or volunteer time to the United Way of Thurston County or to a United Way organization of their choice.

Ron Bruchet
GHB owner Ron Bruchet was presented a certificate of recognition by WA Secretary of State Kim Wyman in 2016. Photo credit: GHB Insurance

Secretary of State Kim Wyman congratulated GHB on its 90th anniversary and saluted them for their willingness to give.

“This is a terrific milestone for you and your employees, one that shows the company’s strong foundation and continued ability to effectively serve its customers and community,” Wyman wrote in a letter. “Your GHB Live United Challenge’ is a terrific idea and a great way to build and strengthen communities. I encourage people in the South Sound area to take part in your challenge by either giving or volunteering.”

To learn more about GHB Insurance, visit them online or call 360-943-4500.

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