Johnson Inc. cut the ribbon on 80,000 square feet of renovated office space Wednesday morning.
The insurance company held the official opening of its new corporate head office — the Fort William Building on Factory Lane in downtown St. John’s — with hundreds of local employees and guests in attendance and hundreds more watching via live weblink.
St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe kicked off the ceremony by bringing in a claim of his own — O’Keefe said he’s been a client since the late 1960s — that was processed by the time he left the stage. The audience also heard from Johnson’s parent group, RSA, with speeches from Simon Lee, the CEO of RSA International, and Rowan Saunders, CEO of RSA Canada.
“The last time I was here with Ken (Bennett, Johnson president) we had our hard hats on and were walking around, and I’ll tell you, after a tour of the last couple of hours, made it through all of the floors, it’s just an amazing facility, so congratulations on that,” said Saunders, who also paid tribute to the talented and committed work force in St. John’s.
Saunders noted that Johnson represents 40 per cent of RSA’s Canadian revenue, and of its 3,700 Canadian employees, 1,500 are Johnson employees.
Bennett paid tribute to his predecessor, Paul Johnson, former president and CEO, who retired in 1999 but was among the guests.
“Thank you so much for being here today. It means so much,” Bennett told Johnson.
Bennett said the opening of the office — plans began in May 2009 — was the culmination of the company’s vision for continued growth.
“It’s quite a vision, and to look around, to see the team here, kind of standing around this place with such a history, such an amazing story in St. John’s, in Newfoundland and Labrador, and of itself, makes me feel very, very proud, and I know you feel proud too,” he told the employees on the main floor and watching from upper storeys, which overlook the building’s central atrium.
“This is your story. You’ve built this business alongside of us. And every now and again, you get a sense sometimes, to see just how large it’s become, and just what we have created. And oftentimes it’s a day like this, when we gather up so many people together and you get a chance to look around and say, ‘Wow,’ and this is a wow moment for me today.”
Johnson also introduced its new logo, which is used by RSA companies worldwide — a dual colour cog called a “motion logo,” said Bennett, who added that it symbolizes the progressive nature of the insurance business.