On August 24, 2022, the Ross & Yerger family celebrates Thal Athanasion's 35th anniversary with the company! Over that time, Thal has seen plenty of ups & downs and changes within the company.
We sat down with Thal and asked her to share a few of her favorite memories.
"When I first came to R&Y, I could feel the compassion they have for their employees, families, & clients. I wanted to be part of that."
- Thal Athanasion
"Insurance was not something I thought I would make a career out of. I started out working for Unum in Portland, Maine, when I was in high school. That gave me a good start & exposure, so it’s what I knew when I came to Mississippi & started looking for a job.
I landed a job downtown when Mutual of Omaha Agency was here, called the Vestal Agency. I was exposed to Producer contracting, agent life & health sales (both group & individual), claims, underwriting, and processing applications.
I was well suited for this job because I'm like a dog with a bone - I may have to dig deep to find the root of the problem, but I will until I can solve it.
Eventually, the Agency closed, and I had a couple of interim jobs, but they were never satisfying enough for me.
Then, in 1987 a position came open in Ross & Yerger's Financial Institution lines, and I worked under Tony Buchanan with the CPI program. When I first came to R&Y, I could feel the compassion they have for their employees, families, & clients. I wanted to be part of that.
When that part of the program started to phase out, I still wanted to work with Ross & Yerger & I asked if I could transfer over to what I called “the big house.” And I've been in the Benefits department ever since.
At that time were maybe a little more than ½ the size we are now, so we got to know our fellow employees & really bonded. Not that we don’t now, but it is harder since we are on different floors & privacy laws have changed the way certain things must be done in the office.
"Caring. That is the single word that truly describes Thal. She genuinely cares about her clients, co-workers, and friends. You are always reminded of Thal's thoughtful presence on a birthday, holiday, or special occasion with a card, treat, or gift from her. Her kindness and generosity know no bounds." - Scott Bingham, EVP Employee Benefits
When I first started in the Benefits Department, there were three people, plus Scott Bingham, in the Jackson office. We slowly started adding people. Barbara Knapp, in our Tupelo office, gave me a lot of training, and it was pretty much an on-the-job experience - learning new situations every day & how to solve problems.
I remember one time I had written a health policy with Golden Rule & I thought something was covered - it was not - and the lady called me on it. I thought for sure I was going to
lose my job. I felt so ashamed I had made a mistake. The lady was asking us to pay her back about $200 & I remember telling Scott Bingham I would pay for it out of my paycheck.
I was afraid we were going to have to go to court. I was so stressed.
But, as is typical with R&Y, they had my back, and they “ate that cost” & paid the client.
Boy, I learned then to be even more careful than I thought I was in reading the fine print before telling a client that something was covered! I was so thankful. I knew this is where I need to stay - but I need to mind my P’s & Q’s!
Just like then, I know today there are people here who will back me up & help out if I need it.
With the profit sharing, extra time off in the summer, celebrations, our Community Services Programs, and Annual outings, it’s been a great place to work!
This industry requires a team effort, and here at Ross & Yerger, we have that!
While I can't say, "Here’s to 35 more years"... If R&Y will have me, I still have a few more years to give!"
Congratulations, Thal, on 35 amazing years of dedication to our community, our clients, and to our Ross & Yerger family!