LD&B began as a humble life and health agency started by Gene Diener. Gene and his wife began their life together serving in an overseas mission agency in Costa Rica. They returned to Harrisonburg, Virginia in 1974. Even though times were hard and few jobs were available, Gene made ends meet working in construction by day and selling life insurance at night. It took time, but eventually his determination paid off and he started working full-time as an insurance agent in 1975. He worked hard; and as importantly, worked smart, providing the community with a creative new solution to package life and health insurance together. The product offering was quite successful. Gene soon expanded into group benefits, assisted by the community relationships he had developed during his time in construction. He differentiated himself by providing client service far beyond expectations, and his agency grew.
In 1985, Gene and his family returned to Costa Rica, and his cousin Jonas Borntrager joined the company as a part owner. Even though Jonas had no prior insurance experience, the agency flourished under Jonas’s leadership and Gene’s involvement from overseas. After a wonderful three years in Costa Rica, Gene and his family returned to the States in 1988. Gene and Jonas created a benefits administration department in 1991 and merged with Layman Insurance Agency in 1992 to offer property and liability insurance; it was the first of many successful merges with community agencies. The addition of a financial services division in 2011 provided the final piece of the full-service agency LD&B is today.
Without the community, Gene’s business would never have survived; so he and Jonas always looked for ways to invest in and revitalize the downtown Harrisonburg community to which they owed their success. Together they bought and renovated an old auto dealership building with the vision of outgrowing it. It was a big project and some at the time wondered if they would succeed, but Gene and Jonas were planning for the future. They paved a way to continue their goal of giving back and serving the people and communities they cherished, both at home and overseas. Today, LD&B‘s home office is still in that historic building on Liberty Street.
As the business grew, Gene and Jonas attracted employees who believed in the power of helping people like they did. This expanding team was motivated in giving and faith, passionate about continuing the legacy of LD&B, and unyielding in their commitment to always do what is right. Their employees’ faithfulness encouraged Gene and Jonas to decide that those who helped build the company should own it when the time came for the founders to retire.
Gene & Jonas began the process of transitioning LD&B to employee ownership in 2004. After 15 years, the process was finally complete, and the company is now 100% employee owned. Today, the employee-owners ensure the LD&B legacy lives on by holding tightly to the ideals of our founders and the greater vision of giving back.