Mutually beneficial Lititz Mutual and Lititz Borough have grown together for 125 years

By on September 18, 2013


STEPHEN SEEBER Record Express Staff

, Staff Writer

Photo by Stephen Seeberâ?©(Left to right) Lititz Mayor and Fire Chief Ron Oettel presents a key to the city to Lititz Mutual executives Henry H. and Henry R. Gibbel.

History repeats itself.

Cliché? Yes. Applicable? Usually.

Such was the case Tuesday morning when 85 employees and friends of Lititz Mutual Insurance Company gathered for breakfast under the same roof that housed its creation 125 years ago.

In 1888, the same year that Lititz was incorporated as a borough, a group of men met at the Lititz Springs Hotel to form a mutual insurance company to protect local farmers. On Sept. 17 of that same year, the Agricultural Mutual Fire Insurance Company of Lancaster County received its charter, signed by Governor James Beaver.

In 2013, the company, now known as Lititz Mutual, gathered to reflect on a milestone few achieve … and in the same hotel, now known as the General Sutter Inn, where it all began.

During the program, there was talk about dedication to policy holders and the core principles established in the PA Dutch traditions of the founders, but the significance of this company goes far beyond the stone walls of its stately building across the street. Throughout its history, Lititz Mutual has been a key contributor to all aspects of community life in the borough.

“We pride ourselves in being a good corporate citizen for Lititz,” said Henry R. Gibbel, president and COO, “supporting major community initiatives such as the library, park, the historical foundation, community center, fire company…”

One of the special guests at the breakfast was Lititz Mayor and Fire Chief Ron Oettel. He mentioned that when the fire company looked into buying thermal imaging cameras that allow firefighters to see through smoke, Lititz Mutual stepped up to the plate. And when a capital campaign was started for a new ladder truck for the fire department fleet, Henry R. and Henry H (chairman and CEO) joined the crusade. He pointed out that standing the test of time is one thing, but doing so while being a steward of community improvement is a rare combination.

“To have a company that is not only a great contributor to the local economy in so many ways, but also able to endure for 125 years is really nothing less than remarkable,” Oettel said. “And then there are all the other things you do to make this community as wonderful and as special as it is. Reaching out and supporting so many other activities and so many other causes within the community really shows what you’re made of.”

He then presented the Gibbels with a ceremonial key to the city, encouraging Lititz Mutual to remain at the square for another 125 years.

“Less than one half of one percent of companies ever survive 125 years,” said a proud Henry H. “We’re grateful for many things today, particularly the opportunity to serve, and right in downtown Lititz too.”

Gibbel leadership started in 1892 when Henry R. Gibbel was elected secretary of the company. He was followed by Henry B. Gibbel in 1927, and Henry H. in 1959.

The Henry R. who spoke Tuesday morning has been company president since 1987, and John R. Gibbel has been secretary and vice president since 1974.

That’s a lot of years and a lot of Gibbels.

Joining them at the breakfast table was PA Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine, who congratulated the company before heading to Allentown to promote Gov. Corbett’s new “Healthy Pennsylvania” healthcare initiative.

As the event came to a close, John R. declared, “Today is the first day of the next 125 years … I wonder what they’ll think of us.”

Assuming Lititz Mutual continues doing what it has been for the past 125, it’s a safe bet that history will repeat itself yet again.


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