Norris Insurance

Norris Insurance: “We’ll Come Running!”

When Chris Norris was in high school, he took up running for the cross-country team, and his dad, John, decided to join him in his new hobby. Chris stuck it out through college but more or less gave up serious running after that. John kept going. And going. At 83, he’s not only still running, John is also still working at Norris Agency, which he started in 1959. Norris Insurance is headquartered in Amboy, Ind.

Chris, John, and Karen NorrisThe agency is a family affair. Chris is now the agency’s president. His sister Amy, also an agent, has worked there since 1984, and his wife, Karen, does accounting for the agency. A niece also helps out. 

The agency’s tagline is “We’ll come running!”

From Amboy to Philly and back

Chris hadn’t planned to follow his father’s footsteps into the agency. He grew up in Amboy, but after college at Manchester University, where he met his wife, he moved to Philadelphia to work as a CPA for KPMG, one of the “big four” in the accounting world. He and Karen stayed for about five years. But, once they started their family (twins James and Andrew, 32, and Jenna, 28), Chris and Karen decided to head back to Indiana and family. Chris joined Norris Insurance in 1990.

“I knew we weren’t going to stay in Philadelphia forever, and I decided that insurance was an honorable profession,” Chris said with a laugh. They settled in the Hoosier countryside near Jalapa, Ind. (Pop. 212) — “just a blip on the road.”

Over the years, Norris Insurance continued to grow and now has 14 offices in north-central Indiana.

Customers first

“When you add it all up, it seems like we’re big,” Chris said. “But even though sales are important, we think of ourselves as a service-first company.

“Just by the nature of where we are and how we grew” — picking up locations in the surrounding area when agents retired or sold — “it’s more like we have 14 separate agencies. We feel like our customers should be served locally, that we’re there to meet their needs in their own communities. We really represent small-town Indiana.” Of Norris Insurance’s 43 employees, 39 are licensed agents.

The same service-first attitude is one of the things Chris appreciates about working with Grinnell Mutual and about having a dedicated underwriter. “They’re very flexible and want to help,” Chris said. “It’s really valuable to know we’re doing business with someone who knows our market — we can build trust and have honest conversations.”

But wait…What does all this have to do with running?

“You may have wondered,” it says on their website, “‘Where did they get that slogan, We’ll come running?’”

It stems in part from the slate of four 5k road races that Norris Insurance hosts each year as part of the Kokomo Roadrunners Race Series. They welcomed nearly 400 running and walking entrants in 2019. (Many racing events were cancelled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.) 

Running — and the discipline of running — is also at the core of their business philosophy. But as happens in a lot of origin stories, the details about the decision to use “We’ll come running” as a business tagline have been mislaid.

“As some point the agency realized that [it] not only explained what John and some of the other agents did for fun and exercise,” the Norris website reads, “but that it was an extension of how Norris Insurance operated. Now, you don’t have to be a runner to work for Norris Insurance, but it is that spirit of dedication and consistency that a runner has that we want to model… .”

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