Ensuring insurance efficiency

Jeff Shorb is manager of the Enterprise Holdings Damage Recovery Unit in Gainesville.

Steven H. Keys/Correspondent
Published: Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 30, 2012 at 9:20 p.m.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car was the toast of the town when the company announced it was opening a customer claims call center in 2009 and bringing nearly 200 jobs to Gainesville.


Jeffrey L. Shorb

Age: 39
Occupation: Manager, Enterprise Holdings Damage Recovery Unit
Personal: Married, two children, son, 6, and daughter, 4
Pets: Dog named Capt. Morgan
Favorite books: Dan Brown’s series
Favorite TV shows: “Pawn Stars,” “American Pickers” — anything on the History channel
Playing in his car: Local sports radio 104.9
Hobbies: Golf, watching sports, coaching son’s sports teams
Education: Penn State University degree in recreation and parks management

Since then, the Damage Recovery Unit has quietly — almost anonymously — gone about its business of processing insurance claims for accidents involving the company's rental cars.

The office — in a former Winn-Dixie near The Home Depot off Tower Road — has no outside signs announcing its presence. Visitors are instead instructed to look for the palm trees out front.

Inside, just more than 180 employees in a sprawling stretch of cubicles handle some stage of the 20,000 to 30,000 claims a month the facility handles.

Jeff Shorb has been manager of the DRU since before it opened. Prior to that, he had managed a small claims center in Rockville, Md., one of nearly 130 around the country. When five regions were consolidated into one, he led the larger region.

To make the claims process more consistent and efficient, Enterprise consolidated all operations into three large regions — in Fort Collins, Colo., Tulsa, Okla., and Gainesville. The Gainesville DRU handles claims for everything east of the Mississippi River.

The company looked at several towns for its East Coast location.

"We needed the labor to be ready," Shorb said. "We needed a place where people wanted to live because we knew there was a certain amount of managers we were going to have to bring who knew the system and could teach it to everybody. And of course we wanted it to be advantageous to the business, too. It was a good environment. We could get the cost of labor at the right price and yet be reasonable with our people."

He said the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce and FloridaWorks were "unbelievable" in helping the company, with FloridaWorks helping them hire 130 people within a few months before opening.

"Gainesville reminds me of where I went to college — Penn State. The big campus. Basically it's a pleasant reminder," Shorb said. "We left our snow shovels and moved down."

Enterprise's 45,000-square-foot office is divided in two, with the administrative department on one side and recovery on the other.

Entry-level employees start on the administrative side handling the initial phone calls or support services, and from there can move on to examinations or billing.

"Once you learn how a claim happens, who to contact, who's involved, then you move into the recovery sector," Shorb said. That is where employees handle negotiations and settlements.

Since opening, the facility has promoted six people to supervisor or management positions.

"There's a lot of upward mobility and opportunity with Enterprise," he said. "One of our mantras is ‘work hard, reward hard work.'"

Shorb rose through the ranks after landing his first job out of college 17 years ago, renting and washing cars in Gettysburg, Pa. He would go on to other jobs in Pennsylvania, Boston and the Washington, D.C., area.

The Gainesville DRU handles claims from home-city locations — or retail locations outside airports that serve the local population. About 80 percent of the customers are people who need a rental after damaging their car, Shorb said. The rest are people who don't have cars, are traveling out of town or need a van. Some people also rent a car to test drive it for a few days before making a purchase.

The company doesn't want claims, Shorb said.

"We don't make money on our claims. We're just trying to recover what it costs us," he said.

While economic downturns affect the travel industry, that has more impact on airport rental claims, which are handled out of Tulsa, he said.

"For home city — you hate to say it — people are always going to wreck their cars."

Shorb said the Gainesville center's workload is more affected by the weather than the economy.

"If you don't have a lot of snow, there are not as many accidents," he said.

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