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Friday, September 26, 2014

Memory of the Month: They might be giants

Each month, we share an image from GEICO’s past and invite you to exercise your caption-writing skills.


Leo Lorimer old photoThis is the month in which we celebrate GEICO’s birthday, which we call Founders Day. For me, it’s a time to recall the early history of this company, and the people who built the company where I’ve been privileged to work for 30 years.


Which brings me to this photo, shot sometime in the late 1960s; it doesn’t depict any particularly momentous event, but it’s noteworthy just the same. This is one of a surprisingly few photos that include the two men mostly responsible for the beginning of GEICO’s success story.


That’s Leo Goodwin in the center, presenting a bowling trophy to a member of the GEICO bowling league. Goodwin founded GEICO in the mid-1930s and guided it through the lean start-up years, ably assisted by his wife, Lillian. Behind Goodwin is Lorimer Davidson, who became associated with GEICO in the mid-1940s as an investment banker who handled GEICO’s account.


Davidson and Goodwin became fast friends, and Davidson became GEICO’s financial vice president in 1948. This fortuitous pairing coincided with a lengthy stretch of profitable growth for the company until Goodwin decided that, at age 72, he was ready to retire from active management of the company and move into an advisory role.


In 1958, Davidson was named the new president of GEICO. He would oversee another 12 years of great prosperity for the company before he, too, chose to retire. None of the next four men who held the top job at GEICO after Davidson’s retirement would serve the company in that role for a longer stretch of time.


GEICO celebrates its 78th birthday this month. Our recent history, which includes us becoming the nation’s second-largest auto insurer, is pretty impressive. But I can’t help but wonder where we might be without the vision and leadership of Leo Goodwin and Lorimer Davidson, who steered us through our first 32 years.


What do you suppose this bowler would say?






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