January 17, 2012
At one point in his life, Steven Morrison considered a career as a medical doctor but was talked out of it by his father, who was an ear, nose and throat specialist. His father told Morrison the medical field was getting too socialized and insurance companies were extremely difficult to work with. Ironically, Morrison now heads Educators Mutual Insurance Association (EMIA), one of the leading benefits providers in Utah.
Morrison stepped into EMIA’s CEO position after Andy Galano announced his retirement last spring. The nonprofit organization has been providing health, dental and vision benefits to Utah educators since 1935 and has recorded tremendous growth during that time.
As a CPA, Morrison was hired as EMIA’s director of internal audit in 2001 and advanced to vice-president of marketing in 2003. He moved into the position of executive vice president of sales and marketing in 2005 and now oversees the company, which services more than 400 organizations.
“I’m well-rounded,” Morrison says. “When I told people I was a CPA and I was over the sales department, they just couldn’t believe it. It’s been a great learning experience, plus you develop great relationships.”
And relationships are the core of EMIA’s success. As a local company, Morrison says it provides quick responses on claims, prompt payments and great customer service. There’s also direct access to the CEO at any time.
The Weber State graduate believes providing educators with the best benefits helps offset the low salaries most educators are paid. EMIA provides insurance to many public service and government offices, public schools and higher education institutions such as Utah Valley University and Southern Utah University.
Morrison is watching the national health care scene closely, waiting to see how the new reforms will affect business. But he is confident EMIA will continue to provide the highest quality health benefits at the lowest premiums possible.
The company that started 75 years ago as the Utah Teachers Welfare Association began with a “pass-the-hat” policy of providing funds for medical, burial and other expenses. In 1965, the name changed to Educators Mutual and in 2005, EMIA added its first commercial initiative offering insurance to groups outside the education field.
Since that time, the company has enjoyed a vast amount of growth and interest in its products, especially with the premium dental benefits. EMIA even has plans to expand into Arizona in the near future. Morrison attributes much of that success to quality employees and strong products.
“The employees are the greatest asset that we have. I expect to be loyal to them, and I hope they’re loyal to me,” Morrison says. “It’s all about the customer. In this business, the relationships are so important.”
When he’s not at work leading the largest insurance provider in the state, Morrison spends time with his wife and three children riding motorcycles, snowmobiling or biking up the canyon. He still maintains his CPA license, gets involved in community events, has owned and operated several small businesses in Utah and currently serves on the Junior Achievement board of directors.
“My strength is my integrity. I’m going to stand behind what I commit to,” Morrison says. “I’m a straight shooter. What you see is what you get, and I don’t play games.”