125 Years Strong
In August 2018 we celebrate 125 years of serving our community. With our deep roots, we hold on to our traditions but look toward the future.
Winona Agency’s founder was William A. Baumann. William A. Baumann was born June 13th in 1873. On his 15th birthday, he got a job as an office boy for the firm of C.A. Bierce and Company in Winona. By 1893 Baumann dropped out of school at the age of 20, and formed a new agency with H.S. Bolcom. The agency was called Bolcom and Baumann. This was the seed from which Winona Agency grew. Baumann took over the agency in 1896. In 1903 the name was changed to Winona Insurance Agency.
Baumann was an entrepreneur in an area of the insurance business that was more significant in those days than today, the General Agency business. Insurance companies in those days did not arrange contracts with every agent who might sell their policies. Instead, they would appoint a general agent who other agents would work through to purchase coverage for their clients. Baumann became a general agent for Rockford Insurance Company in 1895. That meant traveling to visit the agents in Minnesota and Wisconsin to solicit their business. The general agency business grew into a separate company when Baumann joined Fred Gordon of Milwaukee in 1905 to form Baumann and Gordon, a general agency that represented multiple insurance carriers. This company operated in 4 states and existed until 1960 when it was sold to the Crum and Forster Insurance Company. It meant lots of train and automobile travel for Baumann during his career.
Baumann and Gordon represented The Boston Company, the first company to sell automobile insurance in Minnesota and at one time, every auto policy sold in Minnesota was issued in Winona by Baumann and Gordon. This General Agency was operated in the same office as the Winona Insurance Agency.
There were 7 agency acquisitions during the years from 1930-2003, all within the city of Winona. As a result, there were different owners during these years. Various members of the Baumann family had partial ownership of the agency until 1960.
In 1985, the single owner of the agency, Fred Naas, created an ESOP as part of his exit strategy. As a result, Winona Agency has been employee owned since 1985. Since that period of time we have had three Presidents and the agency has grown by more than 2 1/2 times in revenues. Today we have four office locations in Winona, Rochester, St. Paul and La Crescent, MN and have grown to become WA Group. We have 70 employees and have employees who operate remotely from as far away as northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Tennessee, Missouri, and Washington.
WA Group offers Personal Lines, Benefits, and Commercial Lines coverages. We also as part of our value proposition, offer clients risk management services which includes HR solutions to our clients. We operate in the upper Midwest primarily, but have clients with locations in all 50 states and 30 countries in the world.