CRAGIN & PIKE: LAS VEGAS’ OLDEST AGENCY GROWS WITH ITS COMMUNITY
This former cover agency is a generalist that proudly serves select niche markets
By Elisabeth Boone, CPCU
Founded in 1909 in what was then a small desert community of 900 people, Cragin & Pike has grown to become the largest independent agency in Las Vegas. Operating out of a storefront from which they offered real estate and insurance, founder and first Las Vegas mayor Peter Buol could hardly have envisioned the enormous growth that would follow.
In 1910, William Pike joined Buol, and six years later, in 1916, Pike hired Earnie Cragin. When Buol left Las Vegas, Cragin and Pike assumed 100% owner-ship of the agency.
In 1956, Frank Kerestesi joined the agency, followed by his son, Tom Kerestesi, in 1974. In 1975, Jim Burns came on board.
Cragin & Pike’s first office was located on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. For 35 years, it did business at 2603 West Charleston Boulevard. This summer, the agency moved to a new office in Summerlin, an award-winning and fast-growing master planned community in the western part of the Las Vegas Valley.
Today, Cragin & Pike is Nevada’s largest independent agency, with 52 employees, who serve the agency’s key niche markets of casinos, construction, real estate, transportation, and nonprofit entities.
In the July 2004 issue of Rough Notes, Cragin & Pike was featured as the cover story in a detailed profile written by Dennis Pillsbury.
The agency has become a trusted partner to many of the largest and most successful businesses in Nevada… . The firm’s ability to pivot and think outside the box for its staff and its clients contributes to its long-standing success
Recently the agency announced key changes at its executive level. Scott Kerestresi was named chief executive officer, replacing Greg McKinley, who will handle clients and new business opportunities while stepping away from day-to-day management of the firm. Tom Burns, who joined the agency in 1991, remains as president; Todd Morse was promoted to chief operations officer, and Chris Campbell remains executive vice president of the health and benefits division.
Named the agency’s first woman and first Hispanic shareholder partner was Dulcinea Rongavilla, who will work with her colleagues to provide short- and long-term strategic direction, new business growth, financial oversight, and leadership development. Rongavilla will be profiled in a “Broken Glass” feature in an upcoming issue of Rough Notes.
From its founding to the present, Cragin & Pike has always been able to adeptly and effectively respond to challenges, both those in the economy and ones its clients are facing. The agency has become a trusted partner to many of the largest and most successful businesses in Nevada by offering commercial insurance, risk management, services, surety, employee benefits, and private client group services.
The firm’s ability to pivot and think outside the box for its staff and its clients contributes to its long-standing success as the second-oldest business in Nevada.
Key goals for the future are building on [the agency’s] success, continuing to support its staff,
and providing high-quality service and counseling to its clients.
The agency’s first automation system was installed in the late 1980s. Today, Cragin & Pike uses Applied Epic and Brokerage Builder. Technology makes the agency more efficient with broader storage capacity, greater interaction among Microsoft Outlook, the internet, and other agency programs, plus real-time updates and modules that talk to each other.
What factors account for the agency’s longevity? Agency leaders believe that is tied directly to the firm’s commitment to family and community and to operating with integrity. Cragin & Pike has a reputation for doing the right thing for clients, employees, and the areas in which it operates. The agency promotes education, keeps up with emerging trends and latest developments, and uses best practices.
Looking ahead, what key goals and objectives will Cragin & Pike be pursuing? How will leaders position the 113-year-old agency to compete effectively in the market? Executives stress that the agency is committed to staying locally owned and independent. Cragin & Pike is the only local independent agency that has a dedicated risk management department, and the firm has had compounded growth of 8% year after year the last five years. Cragin & Pike consistently measures in the top 10% in the financial matrix within its Assurex Global national peer group.
Key goals for the future are building on this success, continuing to support its staff, and providing high-quality service and counseling to its clients.
Do you know of an independent agency we should feature that has been in business for 100 years or more?
If so, please send background information and email addresses to Elisabeth Boone, CPCU
(firstname.lastname@example.org). We’ll take it from there