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After outgrowing its new space, Farmers Mutual Insurance Co. will expand into the vacant third floor of its former building on Lincoln Mall.

When Farmers Mutual Insurance Co. moved into a new headquarters building in 2013, it knew it would eventually outgrow it. That’s the main reason the company decided to keep ownership of its former building and lease out part of it rather than sell it.

However, that growth has come much faster than expected. The Lincoln insurer has added more than 30 employees since the move to the new office and is running out of space.

"We're experiencing a few departments that are maxed out from a space perspective," said Mark Walz, chairman, president and CEO of the 128-year-old property and casualty insurer.

To remedy that, Farmers Mutual has decided to move some employees back to its old building at 1220 Lincoln Mall. The company plans to renovate the vacant third floor of that building and build a skywalk connection between it and the new headquarters building at 501 S. 13th St., which is next door.

Walz said construction will begin later this year, with a goal of moving employees into the old building sometime next year.

He said the growth is being driven by some new areas of geographic focus.

Farmers Mutual is the largest Nebraska-based property insurer, and it also is the largest farm insurer in both Nebraska and South Dakota.

About the time it opened its new headquarters, it also made a push to write more policies in South Dakota, branching out into the western part of the state.

The overall economic strength of the past few years also has helped the company grow, Walz said.

He said the expansion is necessary not only to accommodate current growth but also to be positioned for the future. The company is looking to expand into other states and expects to add at least 20 employees in the next year or two.

"It's a good thing and we're really pleased to be able to do it," Walz said. "We're looking forward to the future."

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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