Ravns leave legacy at Church Mutual
Mike Ravn is a humble man, uncomfortable with being in the spotlight. However, Church Mutual Insurance Company was not going to let its former president and CEO – nor his wife, Jean – slip quietly into retirement. Unbeknownst to Mike, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016 was declared “Mike and Jean Ravn Day” at Church Mutual and in the city of Merrill.
“I knew something was going to happen today,” he said, as Church Mutual employees gathered for a lunch and program in his honor. “I could not have expected or anticipated this wonderful celebration. I’m uncomfortable right now, but I’m so very happy.”
As part of the festivities, Merrill Mayor Bill Bialecki presented the Ravns with a key to the city.
“I know we owe an awful lot to Church Mutual and Mike’s predecessors and certainly to Mike for carrying the torch to lead this company forward and be a strong partner for the city,” Bialecki said.
Bialecki also read a proclamation declaring Mike and Jean Ravn Day in the city of Merrill.
A Merrill native, Mike went to work for Church Mutual in 1986 as a workers compensation claims examiner, worked his way up through various positions in claims, underwriting and administration to ultimately be named CEO in 2010.
Kevin Root, Church Mutuals Chief Financial Officer, noted that during Ravn’s tenure, the company has seen policy-holder surplus increase by about $200 million, net admitted assets increase by about 30% and premium volume increase by an additional 20 percent.
“When I first came to Church Mutual, there was a guiding priciple that you had, Mike, that we had to strengthen our foundation,” Root said. “I’m pretty confident that I can say that you’ve accomplished your goal. Because of the investments that you have made in the organization, I feel very confident that you’re leaving Church Mutual positioned for success in our future.”
Ravn will continue to hold a seat on the Church Mutual Board of Directors. He is also currently president of the board of directors for Good Samaritan Health Center and the Merrill Area Community Foundation, and serves on the boards of Lincoln Community Bank, Household Abuse Victims Emergency Network (HAVEN) and Central Wisconsin Performing Arts Foundation.
Ravn spoke of his love for his hometown.
“As many of you know, I bleed blue and white – the Merrill High School colors,” he said. “I am passionate about what this community has meant to Church Mutual.”
A reflection center building, constructed on the Church Mutual grounds last year with the help of Merrill High School building trades students, was dedicated in honor of Mike and Jean. Merrill Area Public Schools Superintendent Wally Leipart and Merrill High School Principal Shannon Murray were on hand for the dedication.
“After the building was completed and the contractors left, we approached our board of directors and asked them to dedicate the Reflection Center to Mike and Jean Ravn,” said current company CEO Rich Poirier. “Today we’re going to do the official dedication of the Reflection Center and we asked Shannon and Wally to come and celebrate that moment with us.”
“It meant a lot to Church Mutual, being a private business-school partnership,” Mike Ravn added.
Poirier said he is exploring ways to strengthen the company’s relationship with the high school.
“We’re very honored to have a partnership with Merrill High School,” he said. “That’s always been very important to Mike and I can assure you that will carry on during my tenure. The future of this company comes out of Merrill High School.”
From the Church Mutual Employees Association, Mike received a scrapbook containing memories and well-wishes from employees.
“It’s been a pleasure and an honor to call you a colleague and friend,” said Brian Seeger, president of the Employees Association. “We as your colleagues wanted to share some of those memories with you. We’ve reflected on our experiences with you and the impact you’ve had on each of us.”
Jean was also bestowed the status of honorary Church Mutual retiree. Jean had actually worked at Church Mutual until Mike became CEO. Since Mike couldn’t supervise his spouse, Jean stopped working at Church Mutual at that time.
“As an officer group, we decided to right a wrong that happened a few years ago,” Poirier joked as he read the proclamation conferring honorary retiree status to Jean for 37 years of service to Church Mutual.
On Mike and Jean’s behalf, the company presented a $10,000 donation to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), a cause dear to Jean’s heart. Susan Hjelsand, ADA program manager, accepted the donation.
“This money will help us bring kids to camp and help bring resources to communities such as yours,” Hjelsand said.
Summing up his career at Church Mutual, Mike said, “It’s been a great run. This company has made such a positive impact on my life and I’ll never forget it.”
Mike was also quick to shift the focus away from himself.
“Our success is a team success, past and present and future,” he said.