Biz Briefs: Wheeler & Taylor Acquires GoodWorks Insurance's Great Barrington Office
Insurance merger: Wheeler & Taylor Insurance of Great Barrington has purchased the Great Barrington office of GoodWorks Insurance. The purchase brings together two firms that are consistently ranked among the top independent insurance agencies in the region, according to George A. Ryan, Jr., president of Wheeler & Taylor.
Chad Yonker, chairman of GoodWorks Insurance, will become a shareholder and chairman at Wheeler & Taylor. Ryan will continue in his role as president indefinitely and remains the company’s majority shareholder. Both organizations have a long history of supporting their communities through charitable giving and going forward will be no exception. Wheeler & Taylor will license the GoodWorks Insurance charitable-giving program to continue to support local organizations and charities in Massachusetts.
GoodWorks and Wheeler & Taylor are neighbors in Great Barrington. When GoodWorks closes its local office at 343 Main Street, their customers will go next door to 333 Main St. to be served by Wheeler & Taylor. All of the GoodWorks Great Barrington staff have been offered positions at Wheeler & Taylor.
GoodWorks Insurance, Wheeler & Taylor and their affiliates offer a full range of insurance and financial products to customers ranging from individuals to multi-national manufacturers including: auto, homeowner, business and life insurance, group health, 401(k) advisory and management, real estate brokerage, as well as surety bonds through GoodWorks affiliate Metayer Bonding Associates.
Wheeler & Taylor has five offices in the Berkshires, including Great Barrington, Sheffield, Stockbridge, Pittsfield, and Dalton. GoodWorks Insurance and its affiliates have five offices in Connecticut and Massachusetts, including Glastonbury, New Milford, Avon, Columbia and Worcester.
Giving back: Pittsfield-based Laurin Publishing Co. presented the first Teddi C. Laurin Scholarship to Kaitlyn Williams, a graduate student at the University of Arizona’s Optical Engineering program. Williams, who completed an undergraduate degree from the same institution last spring, is focusing her work on lens design with application in telescopic camera systems.
Co-funded by Photonics Media and SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, the $5,000 scholarship was created to raise awareness of optics and photonics, and to foster growth and success in the industry by supporting students involved in photonics. The scholarship is offered on an annual basis, with committed funding for the next 15 years.
A formal presentation of the scholarship occurred at SPIE’s Optics and Photonics Conference in San Diego in the fall.
Teddi C. Laurin, who passed away in November 2015, entered the worlds of optics and publishing in the early 1960s, working alongside former Eastman Kodak physicist Dr. Clifton M. Tuttle on a one-volume annual optical industry directory. When Dr. Tuttle retired, Teddi took over management of the Photonics Industry Directory, expanding it over the years into a four-volume compendium that included the Photonics Handbook and Photonics Dictionary. In 1967, Teddi established Optical Spectra to publish relevant business and technical news. In 1982, she changed the magazine's name to Photonics Spectra, declaring in an editorial that "in the coming decades, we will see photons — the elementary particles of light — put to work to do most of the things electrons do now — and do it better and faster."
Today, Laurin Publishing publishes business-to-business magazines, directories and websites, podcasts and conducts webinars under the brand Photonics Media, that focus on optics, lasers, imaging and photonic component manufacturing. The company has over 50 employees in Pittsfield and at satellite branches and has editorial contributors from around the world.
In the Berkshires, Laurin generously supported many community organizations including Shakespeare & Co., UCP, and the Berkshire Museum. She was the original president of the Colonial Theatre Association from 1999-2001, lending her time, talent and money to lead the process of the initial purchase and restoration of the $21.6 million restoration of the historic theater.
Next generation: Student finalists from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) will pitch their original and inventive ideas to area business leaders on Wednesday, April 19, at the culmination of the college's first-ever Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge, a new competition that aims to match entrepreneurial students with resources and networking opportunities that will help them bring their ideas to fruition. This competition, to be held at 5:30 p.m. in MCLA's Feigenbaum Center for Science and Innovation, room 121, is free and open to the public. It is made possible by the Feigenbaum Fund, and Jack and Susy Wadsworth.
The finalists – as many as six groups of students – will be selected from about two dozen teams slated to participate in the Challenge. In addition to a $10,000 prize and a funded, 10-week internship, winning students will receive advising and space to continue the development of their proposed idea from a local incubator, Lever, Inc., a center for entrepreneurship and social innovation based in North Adams.
Participants in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge will be coached through a series of deliverables, including an idea abstract, a pitch deck, a business model canvas and a business plan, before they pitch their ideas to a panel of judges. Their ideas include a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) Center in downtown North Adams for students in pre-K-12, parents and administrators; augmented reality and virtual reality educational technology; an aquatic Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking system for fishing equipment; and other proposals related to food, agriculture and social services.
Participating students will be invited to attend workshops on topics related to innovation and entrepreneurship, and to meet experienced investors, entrepreneurs and leaders of local community organizations in mentorship-style gatherings. These events serve to connect students to the people best equipped to help them succeed. Judges for the competition include J.D. Chesloff, Nancy Fitzpatrick and Jack Wadsworth.
The winner is ...: Berkshire Bank has awarded Betsy Salinetti, Retail Loan Servicing Supervisor for Berkshire Bank, as the winner of the Employee Road Game Giveaway. The Giveaway includes two premium tickets to the Boston Bruins vs Chicago Blackhawks hockey game on April 2 in Chicago, round trip airfare, two night hotel stay and dinner during the stay for winner and a guest.
The Employee giveaway was provided as an additional way to demonstrate the value and appreciation the bank has for its staff. The prize patrol, led by Matt Coletti, VP of Loan Servicing, presented the prize to ensure it was celebrated as a significant event to honor Salinetti.
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