By Dr. Carl Findley III
Mark your calendars: February 19th is coming. Last year, Mayor Robert Reichert officially declared February 19th GEICO Appreciation Day in Macon. Reichert even presented GEICO with a key to the city of Macon after the company raised over $1 million for United Way. The key and honorary name day were a symbolic gesture underlining the reality that the past, present, and future of Macon and Middle Georgia are intertwined with this national insurance powerhouse.
Warren Buffet, a self-made businessman who bought his first stock at 11 years old and is now the second richest man in America and one of the most respected voices in American investment circles, originally invested in GEICO stock in 1951 as a young and eager 21-year-old business student at Columbia University. The original price for one share of publically traded GEICO stock back in 1948 was $27. Today, a share in Berkshire Hathaway, the parent company of GEICO, is worth over $224,000. Buffet is one of America’s great success stories, and that success can be traced to a decision that Buffet is quick to admit “changed my life,” the buying of GEICO stock.
GEICO—its official name is Government Employees Insurance Company—was actually founded in the thick of the Great Depression in 1936 by Leo and Lillian Goodwin, targeting insurance to just about the only people who had any money at the time: government and military employees. GEICO has a privileged relationship with federal employees that continues today and is reflected in GEICO’s strong ties to Washington, D.C. Because of GEICO’s historic ties to insuring military employees, Macon’s proximity to Robins Air Force base, and the pool of potential customers there, the base was a major factor in GEICO’s move into Middle Georgia.
GEICO’s beginnings in our community, however, were very humble compared to the sprawling complex tucked away about 5 miles from downtown Macon just off I-16 that few people ever see. Back in 1974, the company started out in downtown, on Poplar Street in the old First National Bank office building. An office that started with 150 employees has now grown to 5,646, a story of growth and development that any city in America would fight to call their own. … Continue Reading