Jim Arend

Jim Arend was born in Windsor, Ontario in 1937 to George and Minnie Arend. While in high school, Jim ran track and was a member of the Essex Scottish rite drum corps.  Serving in the corps was an honor and the highlight of the school year was the military ball, which eliminated the need for a tuxedo because the proper dress for the event was tartan kilts and feather bonnets.  The standard high school experience in Canada was a five-year program, and the last year was an opportunity to take freshman level college classes in the high schools.   Jim graduated in 1956 from Walkersville Collegiate Institute, and in the fall of that year he was accepted to Assumption University of Windsor.  By attending college in his hometown, he chose to live at home. 

As a senior in college Jim was elected President of the Commerce Club.  This gave him an opportunity to visit and question local businesses about their operations and available positions.  Jim graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree which is equivalent to the United States’ Business Administration degree.  Due to his active role with the Commerce Club Jim had a good idea where he wanted his career to begin.  He was attracted to London Life Insurance Company and fortunately he was hired by the company upon graduation from college.

Jim became a U.S. citizen in December 1974 and began a career at Hartford Insurance, which spanned over 18 years.    Midway through his tenure at Hartford the company was acquired by ITT.   In Europe, ITT is known for microwaves, televisions, computers, and like most companies that divest their interests they owned an insurance company.  The insurance arm was Abbey Life. Abbey had some very popular products, which were a combination of Life insurance and mutual funds, but they did not have the systems to support the rapid growth of the company.  Jim was asked to join Abbey to lead their systems development effort and in 1977 the family moved to Bournemouth, England.  Jim was elected Assistant Director of the company in 1977.

Late 1978 the Arend family returned to Hartford, CT.  Jim’s friend throughout his career has been John Hahn and it was John who enticed Jim to the Roanoke area in 1986 to become Atlantic Mutual’s new Senior Vice President.  Jim oversaw the single largest location for Atlantic Mutual that houses Corporate, Property & Casualty, Commercial, Personal, Marine, plus the technology.  Atlantic Mutual was among the first insurance companies in the country to offer “package policies” (the combination of many types of coverage into one unified policy) to the commercial market. They were also an early leader in the multiple line field and were one of the first insurance companies to implement electronic data processing. Atlantic Mutual’s history of innovation, combined with a reputation for service and financial stability, has earned Atlantic Mutual a position of influence in the insurance industry that surpasses their size.

Jim’s milestones while at Atlantic were centralizing all the processing that occurred in 23 offices, revamping the eighteen-month raters and policy writing training sessions. The adage of working smarter rather than harder assured a better work environment for the Processing Centers’ 650 employees.  The Roanoke operation gained a reputation for high quality work and service and over the years many new operations have been moved to Roanoke from across the country.

Jim says his proudest moments have resulted in his involvement in the Roanoke Valley.  Jim has served as chairman of the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Roanoke Valley, Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, and the Roanoke Valley Business Council.  In 2001, Jim chaired Goodwill Industries of the Valley as they grew from a $3 million entity to a $20 million presence in the valley and surrounding counties.  His commitment to affordable education has resulted in eight years’ service on the Virginia Western Community College board of directors.  He currently serves on the Virginia Western Foundation Board and the Jefferson Center Foundation Board and Executive Committee. He is also Treasurer and Executive Committee member of the Art Museum of Western Virginia. He was inducted into the Southwest Virginia Business Hall of Fame in 2003.

Jim Arend was inducted into the Southwest Virginia Business Hall of Fame in 2003.

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