USF&G turns 100

June 01, 1996|By Bill Atkinson | Bill Atkinson,SUN STAFF

How many times can a

company fall

Before it has started to sink?

Yes, and how many folks said

it couldn't be saved,

And left us along in the

drink?

Tell me how many crises did

we overcome

Before we came back from

the brink?

The answer you'll see

At USF&G

The answer's at USF&G

/# -- With apologies to Bob Dylan.

USF&G Corp. threw a birthday bash in grand fashion yesterday with a marching band, rousing speeches, a 10-foot-high cake and the company chairman, Norman P. Blake Jr., singing on stage with his management team.

More than 2,000 USF&G employees attended the company's 100th birthday extravaganza, which was held at the Baltimore Convention Center. They had lunch and heard upbeat speeches by local business leaders and by Blake, who talked about how the once-troubled insurer has been reborn.

"This has not been a turnaround," Blake, who is also the firm's chief executive, told employees. "It has been a transformation. Our company today has been completely transformed into a highly competitive enterprise capable of being a leader in its industry. We are here today to celebrate the rebirth of our company."

Blake spoke from a brightly lighted stage and was flanked by two screens that projected his image throughout the center.

James Brady, Maryland's secretary of business and economic development; M. J. "Jay" Brodie, president of the Baltimore Development Corp.; and County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III, attended the celebration and praised the company.

"You have created a strong, vibrant company that is incredibly important," Brady said. "The state of Maryland wants to be a partner as you continue to grow and become stronger."

Brodie said he was "confident that USF&G would not only survive, but endure."

Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, could not attend the party, but he appeared on video and offered the company a toast.

tTC At one point during the celebration, a fake cake, about the size of a compact car, was wheeled down the main aisle with four-foot sparklers blazing, while members of the Baltimore City College Band beat their drums.

Blake led his team in singing happy birthday. Then the group donned sunglasses and Blake, who put on a cowboy hat, sang their version of Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind."

Blake told the employees they should be proud of the company's history.

"It is because of you we can say: Watch us win!" said Blake, amid an explosion of confetti.

Pub Date: 6/01/96

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