This article is by David Young from La Estrella Online newspaper, 18 December, 2007.
My staff, clients and I have moved to L.R. Ducruet y Hijos, effective August 1, 2007.
A company – where honor and service walk hand in hand
Breakfast in a private room at a five star hotel may not be a big deal for a jet-hopping business executive, but it’s an event to be savoured when your role in the company could be office cleaner or coffee room supervisor. Especially when the meeting is sans departmental managers, but includes the company president.
For Luis “Tito” Ducruet, who heads one of Panama’s leading insurance brokers, it’s a bi-monthly event when he sits down with his grass roots employees to listen to their concerns and suggestions and to share with them his plans and dreams for the future. The meetings are fruitful and have produced many innovative approaches to management, and underline the cooperative philosophy of a company that has expanded its business by 800 percent in the past six years.
It also gives the company the opportunity to reinforce its commitment to the statment that sits on a plinth in front of the company headquarters, a commitment to honor.
Ducruet, a family of French extraction, which arrived in Colon in the 19th century after honorable service in the diplomatic corps, can trace its insurance roots to 1886, when a one man business was opened. It became a partnership and went through a succession of name changes until 1957 when Luis Ducruet’s name was added to form Maduro, Moses and Ducruet,and in time, his eldest son Luis joined the firm.
He was to prove a natural salesman with the gift espoused by Kipling able to “walk with kings nor lose the common touch”.
By 1991 Tito decided that the time had come to spread his wings, and he called upon his two brothers, Roger and Jean to enter the insurance business and found the present company, adopting the family crest emblazoned with the the fleur de lys and the word “honeur”. They also decided to unveil a plaque spelling out a dictionary definition of honor, with a reproduction of a note from their father committing the family and their successors to guarding the tradition. With that commitment has developed a culture of concern for both clients and staff.
The human resources department plays a prominent role, from organizing frequent social functions to the football house league with teams including the brothers as active playing participants. It also extends support benefits like assistance from the legal department when staff are faced with problems. Employees are also helped to free up their off duty hours by enabling them to pay utility bills and taxes at the office
The company is equally active in the community, encouraging executives and staff to volunteer time, expertise, and money to organizations like 20-30 and Children of Darien.
With the Fodsation Amigos an organization that provides help to families of children with leukemia and cancer the company donated a $42,000 mini bus and a van to help with the charity’s work.
All of this while providing genuine customer service. Often, as companies grow, the customer service department lags behind. At Ducruet the department is designed to expand with the increasing client base, maintaining a constant level of service.
Although Ducruet handles major corporateaccounts like the operational risks for the Panama Canal, and works with major insurers throughout the world, its current biggest growth is in personal life insurance.
All of its operations are fired by a team of brokers, each dedicated to expansion, and service.
Meanwhile the company is expanding throughout Latin America, by creating partnerships in El Salvador, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, strategic moves that Tito sees as a major opportunity.
On the home front,business expansion is fuelled by intensive TV advertising campaigns and the siting of Ducruet staff in car show rooms and banks.
Each new client opens doors to a continued growth pattern.
With growth comes constant re-examination and evaluation of strategies.Changes are made not to meet some current business fads, but to maintain a constant level of service, and to provide opportunities for growth and personal development while living up to the words on the plaque, unvieled sixteen years ago.