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Four exciting ways community involvement improves your business' reputation

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

-- Winston Churchill

Many businesses exploit community involvement as a means to an end. A way to get new referrals and clients. A way to get free press or surpass competitors. And while it’s true that community networking connects you to other businesspeople, it also connects you to what’s important to other people who live and work in your community every day.  

Don’t get us wrong. We want to earn new business. We are the leading independent insurance agency in the area, and we want companies and individuals to understand how seriously we take our commitment to partner with them. But we do believe we get back more than we give with our local community involvement efforts, and we’re not just talking about new business. We’re talking about real, meaningful human interactions that shape how we do business and guide the business decisions we make in a very personal way.

With that in mind, we wanted to share some examples of what being active in our local town of Athens and Limestone County means to different areas of our business.

Community involvement contributes to our strong employee morale


Our employees have told us that a big part of their job satisfaction ties back to our many community efforts. Social responsibility allows employees to participate in initiatives -- many of their choosing -- that satisfy their need to “give back” to a community that’s given them so much. 

Says Meredith Baswell, Account Manager, “At Pepper Johnstone, this community is the heart of our company. This is where many of us or our spouses were born and raised, and now we’re raising our own families here as well. We strive to give back to our community members, and we’re so grateful for the community that trusts us to protect their families.”

We make a point to encourage our employees to give their time and energy to various charities, to serve on community business and civic boards, and to volunteer with local nonprofits. Our company’s leadership team goes out of their way to allow employees the time off to do these things. We firmly believe that our company’s high productivity and employee retention rates are a reflection of this. 

Meredith sums it up this way: “We take a lot of pride in the local organizations and businesses that are shaping this community’s future in education and quality of life.” 

Impacting your local economy with community involvement 

Local economic development is on many business owners’ minds, as wealth creation benefits everyone living and doing business within the community. That’s why the Limestone County Economic Development Association’s endeavors have always been a real passion for us. We’ve been fortunate enough to work with them at a time when several significant companies were recruited to Limestone County--none the least of which includes the new Toyota/Mazda plant.  

Bethany Shockney, President & CEO of the Limestone County Economic Development Association, says, “Bryan (Johnstone) has worked with us on our board for several years. In fact, even prior to my tenure, Bryan served as President of our organization, and that was a commitment by Pepper, Johnstone to say, ‘We’re committed enough to let him dedicate time to the organization for a bare minimum for six years!’”

Everyone benefits when local economic development efforts are successful. The economy booms and small businesses -- the heart of any community -- are more likely to open their doors, creating more jobs and further stimulating the economy. It’s the circle of business life in a local community, and, being a part of that circle, we relish our role. 

If you want to differentiate your local small business, get involved in its community 

We’re proud to say we’ve developed a reputation around town as an organization that gives back to its community in immeasurable ways. While we’re not suggesting we are perfect or even do as much as we could, being a good corporate citizen means you develop a reputation - people know who you are and what you do, without you having to say a word. Your reputation will precede you.

Many of our employees have been involved with the local Chamber for many years. Jennifer Williamson, President of the Limestone Chamber of Commerce, says, “Athens in Limestone County is experiencing a tremendous amount of growth right now, and we want the quality of life to be top-notch in our community. We want to be able to share with those that are considering moving to the area that makes our community so great. And so by calling in our business leaders and having them be at the table with us as we promote ourselves and put in some policies to help with our future workforce, it’s great to have that manpower and to have business leaders involved to help us accomplish that.”

It takes an investment of time and elbow grease to make a profound change in the local economy. Encouraging your employees and leadership team to “jump in” is at the very heart of a socially responsible corporate citizen.

Community involvement - we all win!


It’s funny; people get involved in their community simply because it feels good to be socially responsible. But, ironically, the good you give out always comes back to you. Shaun Webb, Vice President with Pepper, Johnstone & Company, says of this thought: “Continuously investing in the economic and the social welfare of this community that we live in is important for any organization, because we’re all benefactors of that. The decisions that we make will be impactful for the greater community at large. Because it’s not just about Pepper, Johnstone & Company, it’s not about just selling insurance for us; it’s about the people that we live with every day.”

Our local community members are the ones that trust us with their commercial and personal insurance needs, and that’s a solemn bond of trust we take to heart. If we don’t take our corporate responsibilities seriously--both to our employees and our community--it’s like a breach of that trust, in our opinion.

Company President, Bryan Johnstone sums everything up neatly when he says, “Pepper, Johnstone & Company has been a part of both national and local civic and charitable efforts. I think what’s most dear to me is the local presence that we have. Without this community, our organization really doesn’t exist.”

Pepper, Johnstone & Company -- Professional insurance advisors who just happen to sell insurance products too!

Reach out to Pepper, Johnstone & Company for premium commercial and personal insurance coverage and unsurpassable client service from our dedicated, community-minded team here in Athens, AL. Our independent insurance agents look after you by working with a variety of different independent insurance carriers. You can request an online quote here by clicking on the type of coverage you are interested in. You can also visit us on our website or call at 256-232-7818 to get us working on a quote for you today.