2018 AGENCY OF THE YEAR
For three decades, Rough Notes magazine has featured truly outstanding independent insurance agencies on its cover. Each year, one such firm is named the Rough Notes Agency of the Year. These are the best of the best—agencies that stand out among the standouts.
This year’s Agency of the Year is Oklahoma City-based INSURICA—a $100 million-plus firm with 600 employees in 30 offices. INSURICA’s selection was not made by magazine editors. Rather, the nod came from previous Agency of the Month honorees.
One previous winner, when submitting his vote, said: “The … selection for me is a slam dunk for INSURICA. These guys designed a creative agency structure and have held true to their concept. They have obviously not stopped designing, based on the article. They continue to be creative in the management of the agency.”
Another penned, “With all of the consolidation taking place in our ranks, I found the INSURICA model of special interest. Keeping 30% ownership in the hands of the merged agencies offers an alternative way to remain an independent agent.”
“I have watched this organization for 25 years,” another said, “and I am very impressed with the culture they have created and the growth they have achieved.” Other comments included, “I have watched [them] grow the right way over the years and respect them very much,” “very large, but with ‘down-home’ values,” “incredibly talented firm,” and “(agency President and CEO) Mike Ross is a class act!”
The October 2018 Rough Notes cover story describes INSURICA’s impressive expansion—driven by both acquisition and organic growth. Twenty years ago, the agency had revenue of about $6 million handled by 75 people. Ross explains, “Our goal has never been growth for growth’s sake; each acquisition has been strategic in nature, bringing in people who fit with our culture and who offer new ideas.”
Developing new talent is front and center at INSURICA. “We have invested an enormous amount of time and resources into our producer development program,” Ross says. “Over the last six years we have hired 75 new producers, most without insurance experience.”
David Saldon, vice president, sales development, says, “In the first year, we focus on building their technical expertise in one or two specialties. We’ve found that having each new producer focus on one or two niches allows them to become experts in those fields, so they can provide a focused risk management approach to potential new clients.”
Data helps drive future growth. Andy Paden, director of practice development, says, “We have analyzed our best customers to determine what they are like and then use those characteristics to determine what companies should be our prospects. We have identified approximately 10,000 prospects that fit.”
A key element of the firm’s success is “INSURICA Next,” an employee-centered initiative the agency launched to help chart its future. Teams of non-management employees from several offices assess how the firm interacts with clients today and how to improve the customer experience. “These teams regularly develop new benchmarks we share with all the offices,” explains Chief Financial Officer Ed Young.
“We also involve all employees by having them participate in our profits,” Young adds. “They see that their job, whatever it may be, is important to our overall success and that we understand this by sharing our success with them.”
Photo: Members of the INSURICA management team (from left):
John Hester, Senior Vice President; Mike Ross, President and CEO; and Ed Young, CFO and Senior Vice President.