Farmers Insurance Group has provided Olathe with a huge economic lift to start the holiday season.
By signing an office lease extension last week, the insurance company committed to keeping its significant operations in Olathe for at least 10 more years. Not only is Farmers among Olathe’s largest employers, but the company is a very active corporate philanthropic citizen.
“That’s how big a deal this was,” said Tim McKee, president and chief executive of the Olathe Chamber of Commerce.
The new lease, which will expire in March 2024, involves a building at Ridgeview Road and Kansas 10 that houses more than 400 Farmers’ employees in the company’s national property claims division. It is one of the company’s three operating divisions in Olathe.
In addition to servicing property claims, the insurer has another group of employees who field customer questions, and a third division that works with its agents in the field. Altogether, Farmers has more than 2,000 employees in the city who occupy four buildings plus a sales network of agents and office managers.
The Los Angeles-based company moved its property claims workers into the 101,000-square-foot Ridgeview Road building in 2008. But the company could have chosen to move because its lease contained an early termination clause in 2014, said McKee.
He said there was concern “that they would relocate those jobs out of the region. They lease this building, but they own buildings outside this region.”
But Rob Koch, head of centralized inside property claims for Farmers, said in a statement announcing the new lease that the company “agreed to extend our commitment because we remain confident that this community is continuing the great partnership we have built together over the years.”
A Farmers spokesman declined further comment on whether the company seriously considered moving.
Farmers and Garmin Ltd. are the two largest private employers in Olathe, McKee said. In fact, Farmers has more employees here than anywhere else in the country, including its corporate office, McKee said. The insurance company’s total payroll in Kansas is more than $200 million, with the lions share in the Kansas City area and Olathe.
The insurance company’s decision to stay in Olathe “is great news for our city,” said Mayor Michael Copeland. “This company is not only a great community partner, but a tremendous corporate citizen.”