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Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield residents and motorists on I-91 will soon see the full name and logo of Wellfleet, a Berkshire Hathaway insurance company, prominently displayed on the city’s skyline.

Signage installation began last week on the western side of the 28-story Tower Square office building at 1500 Main St., at the center of Springfield’s downtown business district.

Agnoli Sign Co. of Springfield is responsible for planning, fabricating, and the complex installation of Wellfleet’s name and logo about 300 feet in the air.

Wellfleet relocated its corporate headquarters to Tower Square in 2019, occupying 80,000 square feet within three floors. Wellfleet has about 210 employees, with the majority based at the Tower Square office.

Founded in 1993, Wellfleet is one of the leading providers of health and accident products to the higher-education market, and its Wellfleet Workplace division offers businesses supplementary health coverage and income-replacement products for their employees.

“After a delay due to the pandemic, we’re excited to be installing the Wellfleet sign on the Tower Square building,” said Drew DiGiorgio, Wellfleet President and CEO. “We take pride in our Springfield roots, and our state-of-the-art offices at Tower Square are the perfect home for our growing company.”

Tower Square is owned by investors Vid Mitta (managing partner), Dinesh Patel, Rohit Patel, and Kamlesh Patel.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Wellfleet has launched a “Back to Work” education series, offering virtual programs designed to give business leaders from all sectors advice, ideas, and best practices for returning to the office — and to a sense of normalcy.

Wellfleet’s “Back to Work” series, a collection of live and on-demand webinars and online resources available at wellfleetinsurance.com/backtowork, kicked off this spring with a “Healthy Buildings” webinar featuring Dr. Joseph Allen, director of the Healthy Buildings program at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Allen shared valuable insights on how business leaders can improve workplace buildings to enhance productivity, engagement, and retention among employees, and offered a hierarchy of controls for a safe, multi-faceted approach to repopulating office spaces.

Worried parents can get peace of mind from Sarah Brown Wessling, 2010 National Teacher of the Year, whose on-demand webinar offers perspective, strategy, and support to parents-turned-educators navigating long-term social distancing and the potential for continued remote learning this fall.

Parents can also take advantage of Wellfleet’s Summer Education & Activity Pack, a resource rich with activities, tips, and tools for keeping kids educated and entertained over the summer.

“The ‘Back to Work’ series is one of many ways Wellfleet is helping our business partners and our community navigate these unprecedented times. It’s an extension of Wellfleet’s mission of providing insurance solutions with quality service and uncompromising ethics,” said Drew DiGiorgio, Wellfleet president and CEO.

Insurance-industry-specific webinars round out the “Back to Work” series offerings, including a conversation on “Overcoming Challenges Facing Voluntary Benefits Engagement & Enrollment,” led by Erik Gray, Wellfleet Workplace’s head of Enrollment Experience.

For a complete listing of events and to register, visit www.wellfleetinsurance.com/backtowork.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Wellfleet, a Berkshire Hathaway insurance company, and industry technology leader EIS Group are building a next-generation insurance-administration platform to meet the evolving demands of the employee-benefits market.

In the complex voluntary-benefits landscape, brokers and their clients commonly work with multiple systems, fighting to integrate with carriers’ patchworked legacy systems. Whether it’s product sophistication, internal workflow monitoring, enrollment and third-party integration, or communications across multiple modules, carriers struggle to administer plans in a digitally unified way.

Wellfleet Workplace entered the voluntary market last year, on a mission to be the digitally enabled carrier of choice. Partnering with EIS Group helps drive this differentiation by jointly creating an open-architecture and cloud-based software system designed to support the full broker and customer life cycle.

“We’re building a web-based, customer-centric platform with a consistent, multi-channel experience,” said James Ocampo, executive vice president and head of Wellfleet’s Workplace division. “At Wellfleet, we have no legacy systems; we’re building our API-driven platform from the ground up, enabling true data integration among apps to power customer-facing processes across multiple channels. Our platform will also improve data agility and operational efficience, and enhance the overall customer experience — all while enabling the rapid introduction of new products to market.”

The software provider’s cloud-based platform supports broker and customer life cycles, including rating and quoting, policy issuance and administration, and billing and claims management. Multi-channel touch points are easily created and managed through EIS Group’s digital-experience platform.

“Wellfleet and EIS Group are making an investment into the future of workplace benefits. If brokers are to keep pace with digital economy demands and engage their clients how they want to be engaged, they need something different,” said Tony Grosso, head of Marketing at EIS Group. “A customer-first approach to solution design and an open architecture that easily connects to a rapidly changing ecosystem of products, services, exchanges, and other channels is critical. Our partnership with Wellfleet will push boundaries and raise expectations.”

Commercial Real Estate

A New Anchor

Drew DiGiorgio discusses Wellfleet’s move

Drew DiGiorgio discusses Wellfleet’s move, backed by, from left, Demetrios Panteleakis, Dinesh Patel, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, Vid Mitta, and state Rep. Carlos Gonzalez.

Tower Square has seen its ups and downs over the years, but its new owners have been aggressive about selling potential clients on the renovated space, convenient parking, downtown amenities, and simply being part of an economic renaissance in Springfield. Wellfleet took that pitch to heart, which is why it agreed to become the tower’s anchor tenant.

Vid Mitta, managing partner of Tower Square, called Wellfleet’s relocation to the downtown Springfield office tower “a big thing.”

It’s even bigger when one considers how far the company has come, said Drew DiGiorgio, Wellfleet’s president and CEO.

“When we started, it was five employees,” DiGiorgio said. “My office was not an office — it was a desk and a chair located at the bottom of the stairs at a barbershop in Wilbraham. We would open up envelopes, and I would lick them because didn’t even have the little spongy thing. We answered the phones when they rang; we did everything. To go from that to this is pretty humbling, and I appreciate everyone’s support to get us here.”

“If this was five years ago, the issue might have been safety in the downtown. But the dynamic has changed. The downtown is attractive, there are all kinds of venues and attractions nearby, and security doesn’t appear to be an issue any longer.”

Wellfleet, a Berkshire Hathaway company providing accident and health-insurance products, recently staged a press conference to announce the relocation of its national corporate headquarters — and 150 of its employees — to the 10th, 11th, and 12th floors of Tower Square in August.

Wellfleet — which has built a national niche insuring college students, handling more than 100,000 students at more than 200 colleges and universities — has outgrown its current office space on Roosevelt Avenue in Springfield. The new offices at Tower Square will give employees up to 80,000 square feet of class-A office space and provide ample room for Wellfleet’s new and growing Workplace Benefits division.

“To me, Wellfleet is a home-grown, small, Springfield-based company which has grown to this size today, and we should applaud their success,” said Mitta, who announced that Wellfleet’s name will be placed on the tower as its anchor tenant.

Rethinking the City

Demetrios Panteleakis, principal of Macmillan Group, the real-estate firm that represents Tower Square, said his team was in discussions with Wellfleet for about a year as Wellfleet searched the suburban market for a home.

“We were the alternative. They were kind of weighing it against what the suburbs had to offer,” he said, adding that he was able to pitch a downtown headquarters as much more than a fallback. In fact, the more Wellfleet’s leaders considered Tower Square, the more it made sense.

“If this was five years ago, the issue might have been safety in the downtown,” Panteleakis told BusinessWest. “But the dynamic has changed. The downtown is attractive, there are all kinds of venues and attractions nearby, and security doesn’t appear to be an issue any longer.”

In short, a thriving urban center is simply more attractive than the suburbs to many companies. But that shift in perception didn’t happen overnight.

“I think it’s a culmination of everything the folks at City Hall, the Business Improvement District, and all the economic-development folks have been working on, rowing in the same direction, for the last four or five years,” he said. “The result is not only attracting new tenants, but bringing tenants from Westfield, West Springfield, Northampton, Agawam … these are folks saying, ‘Springfield is the heart of the economic engine in Western Mass., and that’s where we need to be; that’s where our employees need to be.’”

DiGiorgio said Wellfleet employees, when asked what’s appealing about Tower Square, cited the modern, renovated space itself, with its natural light, city views, and covered parking, as well as the food options downtown and the fact that the district has been emerging economically in recent years.

“In New England, it’s not a lot of fun when the snow and rain come, so having a secure garage, and having the ease of a building that kind of provides you everything you need over the course of the day, that’s highly attractive,” Panteleakis added.

Drew DiGiorgio called Wellfleet’s new home in Tower Square “inspirational” space.

Drew DiGiorgio called Wellfleet’s new home in Tower Square “inspirational” space.

Formerly known as Consolidated Health Plans, Wellfleet branded under its current name in January, uniting its insurance carriers and claims-administration organizations under one marketing name. It boasts approximately 175 employees, 150 of whom work in Springfield; others work remotely or from satellite offices in Florence, S.C. and San Rafael, Calif.

“We believe being part of Springfield is important,” DiGiorgio said, noting that the company has long been involved in efforts like the Memorial Spring Cleanup, Link to Libraries, Friends of the Homeless, Rays of Hope, and Open Pantry. “We are active in the community. Our name is not well-known, but we think that will change in the future.”

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno noted that Tower Square’s owners have been aggressive and creative in bringing an eclectic mix of businesses to the facility, from Wellfleet to the YMCA of Greater Springfield to White Lion Brewing Co.

“A lot of people, years ago, said, ‘what can you expect? It’s Springfield.’ More and more people are saying now, ‘why not Springfield?’” the mayor said. “I won’t say the downtown is re-emerging as much as it is reinventing itself. Springfield is getting on the map. And my administration continues to be business-friendly because it brings jobs.”

Towering Presence

At the end of the day, Panteleakis said, Tower Square is becoming an easier sell.

“When you walk people through the space and they consider the economics of it — for a few dollars more, they can have parking at their leisure, then the level of security and the amenities a class-A building has to offer — it sells itself.”

That’s why he enjoys those tours of the building with prospective tenants, and hopes more companies and organizations request them.

“What they need to understand is what Wellfleet understands — the level of the buildouts of the existing spaces in Tower Square rival anything you’d see in Boston or New York City,” he told BusinessWest. “These are class-A, high-tech buildouts, and there’s a difference between being in a class-B or suburban market and being in a state-of-the-art, class-A office space with spectacular views of the Pioneer Valley.”

At the press conference, Panteleakis said welcoming Wellfleet was “a special day” for the city and the office tower.

“It’s quite remarkable to have another insurance company that’s growing at the rate this company is growing, and it’s only fitting it makes its home in the marquee building in the center of the city, bringing its people, its energy, and its vitality to the downtown,” he noted. “It’s just a great day to see it happen to our city. I think it’s going to be one of many great announcements Tower Square has for you over the coming months.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

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