Merchants' history is a family legacy
With a stable business philosophy, a family work environment, and a focus on making a difference in the community, Merchants Bonding Company™ has an over 80-year history of experience, tradition, leadership, and innovation.
E.H. Warner and Merle Milligan founded Merchants Mutual Bonding Company in 1933, and grew it with a consistent and conservative approach to surety that remains the cornerstone of Merchants' success. W.W. Warner became President in 1962, and led Merchants through the ups and downs of the economy and industry for nearly 30 years. He was succeeded by his son, William Warner, Sr. who continued the family legacy.
Chairman of the Board and President Larry Taylor and Chief Operating Officer and Corporate Secretary Bill Warner, Jr. are members of the Warner family's fourth generation, now leading Merchants Bonding with the same care and commitment to clients, employees, and the community that has marked the growing success of this company. The legacy continues to grow. After eight decades, Merchants now does business in all 50 states. The company's headquarters is in West Des Moines, Iowa, with branches in Austin, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas; Los Angeles, California; Seattle, Washington; Phoenix, Arizona; and Kansas City, Kansas. Merchants employs more than 130
associates working to provide excellent underwriting and underwriting services.
A timeline of significant events
Merchants Mutual Bonding Company was founded by E.H. Warner and Merle Milligan in Des Moines, Iowa. The company's first office was in the Valley Bank Building in downtown Des Moines.
Merchants wrote its first bond, a $1,000 permit bond to sell beer. The premium was $12. At the end of the year, the company's surplus was $791.01.
E.H. Warner's son, W.W. Warner, joined Merchants, then serves overseas in World War II.
Merchants expanded into Nebraska.
Merchants expanded into Kansas.
Merchants relocated to 2100 Grand Avenue in Des Moines. This office served as the company's headquarters for 45 years.
W.W. Warner became President.
Merchants expanded into Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and California.
Merchants opened a branch office in Austin, Texas.
Merchants opened a branch office in Phoenix, Arizona.
The company name was changed to Merchants Bonding Company (Mutual).
The third generation of Warners took over leadership; William Warner, Sr. was appointed President. W.W. Warner was appointed Chairman of the Board. Direct premiums exceeded $10 million.
Geographic expansion continued in 12 more states.
Direct premiums grew 50%.
Stan McCormack, Executive Vice President and Claims Manager, started Claims Department in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Bill Warner, Jr. and Larry Taylor joined the company, representing the fourth generation of family involvement. Surplus reached $5 million.
Expansion continued into 4 more states. Surplus exceeded $10 million.
Merchants moved to 2100 Fleur Drive in Des Moines. Surplus exceeded $15 million.
Larry Taylor, W.W. Warner's grandson and Bill Warner, Sr.'s nephew, was named President, introducing a new era of leadership for the company.
Merchants appointed Bill Warner, Jr. as company Secretary. After he was named Secretary, he and Larry became the fourth generation of family leadership at Merchants Bonding Company.
Merchants appointed Mike Foster as Executive Vice President of Underwriting.
E.H. Warner was inducted into the Iowa Insurance Hall of Fame.
Nations Bonding Company began writing surety bonds as a stock company in Texas and other markets
Merchants began processing bonds on the internet. Expansion continued to other states.
Merchants Bonding Company ranked 21st largest surety company in the United States (source: SFAA). A large addition was made to the current building.
Expansion continued, and Merchants was then writing business in all 50 states.
Merchants Bonding partnered with the National Notary Association to become the nation's largest provider of notary bonds.
Merchants ranked 20th among all surety bond writers nationwide (source: A.M. Best) with more than $51 million in premiums.
Jay Stukerjurgen became Vice President of Information Technology. Merchants achieved a paperless workflow.
Merchants became the 19th largest surety writer in the United States (SFAA), and continued to be the number one surety writer in Iowa.
Therese Wielage joined Merchants as Vice President of Marketing.
Merchants celebrated its 75th anniversary. It was rated "A" (Excellent) by A.M. Best for 50 consecutive years. The company was the 19th largest surety writer nationwide (SFAA).
Merchants Bonding established the Merchants Bonding Company Foundation.
Don Blum joined Merchants as CFO & Treasurer.
Merchants Bonding Company Foundation hosted the first Bill Warner Sr. Memorial Charity Golf Classic, and raised $70,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
The Leaderboard Program was re-launched with incentives and benefits for the Drivers, Champions, and Masters levels, including trips, recognition advertising for our agencies, and educational opportunities.
Our Rapid Access Program (RAP) rolled out to Leaderboard agents. RAP provides bonds on the day of application, at the same rate, with the same underwriter every time.
The Pacesetters Program launched with incentives and benefits for Platinum, Gold, and Silver levels.
Merchants opened the Seattle office with Assistant Vice President Ed Bennett and Contract Underwriter Joel Hertzog.
Merchants opened the Dallas/Fort Worth office with Assistant Vice President Aaron Raschke.
Merchants Bonding Company introduced Theft Guard fidelity bonds.
Merchants ranked 15th largest surety writer in the United States.
Merchants Bonding Company moved its subsidiary, Nations Bonding Company, from Texas to Iowa, and changed the company name to Merchants National Bonding, Inc. Both companies now grow together under the Merchants Bonding Company brand.
Stan McCormack retired, and Steve Dorenkamp was promoted to Vice President of Claims/Claims Manager.
The bi-annual Bill Warner Sr. Memorial Charity Golf Classic grew to morning and afternoon rounds this year, and raised more than $100,000 for the Youth Homes of Mid-America.
Now in its eighth decade, Merchants Bonding Company has enjoyed significant growth and success. With a continued focus on customer service and common sense underwriting, Merchants is a leader in the use of technology to enhance productivity and growth.
Jason Dettbarn was promoted to Regional Vice President of Contract Underwriting.
Jim Holter was promoted to Vice President of Commercial Underwriting.
Josh Penwell was promoted to Vice President of Contract Underwriting.
Brad Rasmussen joins Merchants Bonding Company as Chief Information Officer and is named to the Executive Committee.
Merchants opened the Kansas City office with Assistant Vice President Mike Foster.
Bill Warner, Sr. Memorial Charity Golf Classic raised $130,000 for Blank Children's Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Merchants opened the Phoenix office with Assistant Vice President Chris Bachman
Bill Warner appointed to Chief Operating Officer.
Local Commercial Underwriters are added in Chicago and Southern California.
Merchants Bonding Company moved to new corporate headquarters in West Des Moines, Iowa
Merchants opened the Chicago office with Senior Contract Underwriter Ben Albertson.
Merchants' surplus reached $100 million.
Jim Holter appointed to Executive Committee.
Merchants is named the 14th largest surety in the United States by the Surety and Fidelity Association of America.