Lane Summerhays: Outstanding Directors Awards
Congratulations to Lane Summerhays, Director at WCF Insurance – he has been selected as one of the 2017 Outstanding Directors Awards honorees!
The annual Outstanding Directors Awards celebrates our state’s most engaged and effective board members—individuals who exemplify excellence in corporate governance while guiding companies to develop long-term strategies, enhance their performance and mitigate risk.
Read more about Lane and the other 2017 Outstanding Directors Awards honorees in the digital magazine.
One reason Lane Summerhays is such an effective board member for WCF Insurance is that he served as its CEO for roughly 16 years. He joined the company in 1992 and retired in 2008 to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Upon his return, he was quickly invited to join the WCF board.
“For me, having Lane on the board has been great, because Lane’s been the CEO. Lane knows what kind of challenges a CEO can have,” says Ray Pickup, president and CEO of WCF Insurance. “Lane really knows our business in the kind of detail that you could only know it if you had been CEO.”
Serving as a board member is a distinctly different role from CEO, however, and Summerhays says the task requires integrity, specific expertise and the ability to work with people to find consensus. Corporate governance and risk management have become deeply important for boards, which have seen a growing role for audit committees. He adds that succession planning is also top of mind for boards.
“One of the unique challenges, particularly in Utah, is it seems that most of our companies have aged at kind of the same time. And there are a lot of executives who are over 55 throughout Utah, and so succession planning, and trying to drive a culture of success into a new generation of management, is a significant challenge for a lot of companies today,” says Summerhays. “You’ve got to make sure you keep a management team in place that values culture and will perpetuate it.”
Pickup says Summerhays has been instrumental in developing WCF’s culture and working to ensure it lasts. “Lane has a lot of empathy and compassion for people and the difficulties they have in their lives. And in the business we’re in, where we’re taking care of people, we’re serving people—we’re an insurance company, but we’re really in the people business. … Lane has always encouraged our employees to do the right thing. Whether it’s for a policy holder or an injured worker, we do the right thing. And that permeates our company,” says Pickup. “It’s a culture that Lane created, and I’ve just tried to perpetuate it and not mess it up.”
Pickup notes that WCF Insurance is owned by its policy holders, and “acting in the best interest in our policyholders is totally consistent with us being successful as a company.”
By that measure, Summerhays has overseen tremendous success for WCF Insurance. “A company that was pretty broken [when I became CEO] has generated $1.2 billion in profits that have generated $800 million of surplus to the company, and we’ve been able to return $400 million back to our policy holders in dividends while driving the price of workers compensation insurance down for all Utah employers,” he says.
In addition to his board service with WCF Insurance, Summerhays serves on the boards of Continental Bank and MedOne Capital. He is also president of the Days of ’47. Summerhays says he enjoys tackling the new business challenges that board service puts on his plate—and seeing the results of the decisions that are made at the board level. “When you bring a group of people together with different backgrounds and different strengths, and you blend those strengths together with the management team and you’re all on the same page, it’s amazing what can be done.”