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Merchants Insurance Group is proud to celebrate Lisa Turner, Financial Services Manager, and Kathy Rambuss, Senior Compensation Specialist, with the President’s Award, the highest honor with which Merchants recognizes its colleagues, for 2020 and 2021, respectively.

“Every day, the leadership team sees our core values in both of you,” Merchants President Charles Makey stated upon presenting the award. Merchants’ Core Values include integrity, respect, loyalty, teamwork, and the aspiration to improve.


Merchants Insurance Group President Charles Makey with 2020, 2021 President's Award recipients

From left: Kelly Julius, VP of Human Resources; Kathy Rambuss, Sr. Compensation Specialist; Charles Makey, President; Lisa Turner, Financial Services Manager; Christine Schmitt, EVP, CFO

Since 1987, Merchants has recognized one distinguished colleague each year with this prestigious award, celebrating the recipient’s hard work and commitment to Merchants’ successes that year. During the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Merchants took a hiatus from determining a colleague recipient to instead donate to pandemic frontline healthcare workers in each of the company’s geographical regions. Now with Merchants bringing its traditional President’s Award back, a 2020 recipient was retroactively selected in addition to a 2021 recipient.

“We are making history today,” said Charles Makey, referencing bringing back the President’s Award to colleagues and naming two recipients simultaneously.  Both winners, he stated, were recommended by several company officers for their extensive contributions to Merchants, helping “to continue to make our company successful in the most challenging time in our history.”

Lisa Turner’s primary nomination was by Christine Schmitt, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Kelly Julius, Vice President of Human Resources, gave the primary nomination for Kathy Rambuss.


“I’ve worked with both of you a lot in the last two years. This award is going to great people. Thank you for everything you do,” stated Kelly Julius. “Kathy, I mean it, you are the most upbeat person through anything that happens in your job and in your day. I’ve never met anybody like you. Every day is a great day for you, so thank you.”

“Kathy, Lisa: you’ve always been exemplary employees that consistently demonstrate your professionalism,” stated Christine Schmitt. “You utilize the knowledge that you have, your creativity, teamwork… just to make Merchants as a company and we as individuals the best we can be. So we thank you so much for that… Especially I know during COVID, you both really went above and beyond. You took it a notch up, and we thank you for all your accomplishments.”

Lisa Turner, President’s Award Recipient for 2020

Merchants' Christine Schmitt and Lisa Turner pose with President's Award plaque

Christine Schmitt, EVP, CFO and Lisa Turner, Financial Services Manager & 2020 President’s Award winner

Upon presenting the 2020 President’s Award to Lisa Turner, Charles Makey specifically cited her impact amid the COVID-19 pandemic, among numerous other accomplishments throughout her career at Merchants. As Financial Services Manager, Turner has worked diligently to handle and provide guidance on various complex new issues that arose from the pandemic, including finding a way to refund $3.7 million of COVID premium relief to policyholders in 2020. Through all the new challenges brought on by the pandemic, Turner consistently maintained her enthusiasm, attentiveness, and outgoing personality toward all colleagues. She exemplifies the dedication and leadership qualities that allow teams like hers to thrive. Turner will be celebrating 22 years at Merchants in May, 2022.

“I am honored to receive the 2020 President’s Award,” Turner stated. “It is hard to believe I have been here at Merchants for almost 22 years. My time here has flown by, and I consider myself blessed to come to a job I enjoy. I am thankful for all of my team and all the other colleagues throughout the company who have helped me shine. Many thanks to Merchants for honoring me with this award.”


Kathy Rambuss, President’s Award Recipient for 2021

Merchants' Kelly Julius and Kathy Rambuss pose with President's Award plaque

Kelly Julius, VP of Human Resources and Kathy Rambuss, Sr. Compensation Specialist & 2021 President’s Award winner

Kathy Rambuss, Senior Compensation Specialist, is the company’s 2021 President’s Award recipient. Between 2020 and 2021, Rambuss oversaw the hiring and onboarding process for 87 new full-time colleagues at Merchants, reviewing over 1,000 resumes in 2021 alone. Amid this challenging time in history, Rambuss handled a 112% increase in recruitments in 2021.

Colleagues describe her as “always upbeat, jovial, and personable.” Charles Makey also specifically cited the incredible impression and introduction to the company Rambuss gives interviewees as the first point of contact in Merchants’ hiring process—an impression that has proven to remain with Merchants colleagues long past their time as new hires. Rambuss also continually provides superior customer service and dedicates significant time to ensure a job well done. She celebrated 25 years at Merchants in January, 2022.

“Receiving the President’s Award came as a huge surprise to me,” Kathy Rambuss said. “I am truly honored to be the recipient of this award and am blessed to be part of such a great company for the last 25 years. I am thankful to my HR team and Merchants colleagues for making Merchants a great place to work.”



Lisa Turner and Kathy Rambuss will join the ranks of previous President’s Award winners, listed on the first floor wall of Merchants Insurance Group’s corporate headquarters in downtown Buffalo, NY.


Katherine Trautwein

Merchants Insurance Group

Merchants Insurance Group sells its products through a network of more than 1,000 independent insurance agents in Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. We sell our products through independent insurance agents because we believe they provide value to policyholders through their broad range of products and their insurance expertise.