Southgroup Insurance - Angelyn Treutel-Zeringue
- story by Ellis Anderson
The leadership training of this high-powered — and highly respected — executive began when she was only a toddler. As the eldest of ten children, Angelyn Treutel-Zeringue helped her parents manage a merry and active household.
“The amazing way I grew up reminds me of that movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” she says. “It gave me a real zeal for life.”
Those organizational skills and cheerful vitality learned as a child have helped make Angelyn one of the top business executives in the state. As owner of three SouthGroup Insurance offices — in Bay St. Louis, Diamondhead and Biloxi — she manages thirteen agents.
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She’s been tapped as one of the Ten Leading Business Women in the state, and is nationally recognized as one of the “Elite Women of Insurance.” Rotary International named her a Paul Harris Fellow and Hancock County has honored her as Citizen of the Year.
While Angelyn holds ten different licenses, ranging from insurance to CPA to real estate, she credits more than her education for her success.
“At one point, my family had a farm,” she says. “As a girl, I was driving tractors and hauling feed sacks and riding horses. Even now, I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty. I won’t ask anybody to do something I’m not willing to do.”
Born in New Orleans, the entrepreneur grew up in several places across the South due to her father’s business concerns. Angelyn made the most of each home, building lifelong friendships along the way. After living in Covington and Nashville, the family moved full time to the Mississippi Coast, where the young woman shone as valedictorian of Our Lady Academy. At University of Mississippi, she majored in accounting, also graduating with honors. Then for the next sixteen years, she served as Senior Financial Supervisor and CPA for ExxonMobil Corporation in New Orleans.
While her home and family remained on the coast, Angelyn commuted daily to the city. When an opening came up in the family’s insurance office, she grabbed the opportunity to make a change for the better. Weary of corporate life and commuting, she opted to work in a local environment where she'd be closer to her two sons.
Once she was based in the Bay, Angelyn began to work with the local schools and help with educational fund-raising efforts. She remains an active volunteer and frequently spearheads community projects. For instance, this past spring, SouthGroup Insurance Services, which sponsors and hosts an annual Make-A-Difference 5K Race in Ridgeland, presented a check to Friends of Children’s Hospital in Jackson for $35,000 from the proceeds of the 2015 race. In the past five years, they’ve donated more than $100,000.
She sees insurance as yet another way to serve her community.
"It’s a really rewarding career,” she says. "You can help people get the right coverage, save money and if there's a major catastrophe, help them rebuild their lives."
Angelyn has now been working in the insurance industry for nearly two decades. In 2011, she helped start SouthGroup, a locally owned and operated insurance franchise. SouthGroup has 24 offices throughout the state. As part of a franchise, offices benefit from a centralized payroll and technology sharing.
“We make our computer systems work for us. The automation gives us time to do the things we’re supposed to do, like service and take care of our clients.”
With more than 170 employees now, SouthGroup has become the largest independent insurance agency in the state. That's gives the company a big edge when it comes to negotiating in insurance markets.
“Because of our size, we’re able to access the best markets and the best rates,” Angelyn says. “That’s why business is booming.”
But she cites her employees as the key to SouthGroup’s success. Optimism is one of five core values that is a common focus. The others are integrity, excellence, innovation, and trusted partnerships. Angelyn leads by example with her own irrepressible smile, believing that optimism is contagious.
Each employee is held to a high standard, but once they're working with the company, “you’re family.” Indeed, two of Angelyn's staff actually are family. Her mother, Loislyn Scardino, works with Angelyn in the Bay St. Louis office, while her youngest son, Alex, works out of the Biloxi office.
Meanwhile, life — as well as business — on the coast is good.
“We work really hard on a regional and national basis to get the message out how great things are in Mississippi. We have such a hidden treasure here. And people are finding out about it."