LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
REACHING THE NEXT LEVEL
Bogle Agency Insurance pursues new ideas and segments as it enters its second century in business
By Philip R. Bogle, CPIA
Bogle Agency Insurance was founded in January 1919 by my grandfather, Horace R. Bogle. The original office was on the first floor of an apartment building at 300 Stuyvesant Avenue in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. The agency remained at that location until June 2008, at which time we moved two blocks away to our own office building at 200 Stuyvesant Avenue. Bogle Agency Insurance occupies the entire building.
My grandfather worked until his untimely death in 1964. The agency had a small real estate operation that was phased out after his death. My father, Warren F. Bogle, had joined the agency in 1947 after serving in World War II and graduating from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He took over running the agency after his father’s death and continued operating the firm as a local independent agency with four employees, including himself.
In June 1971, I joined the agency after graduating from Texas Christian University; I was the agency’s fifth employee. Other than hiring one more person, the agency remained pretty much the same until my father’s death in December 1999. I took over the agency in January 2000 and realized that we could not survive if we continued to do business as we had since 1919.
Bogle Agency Insurance was a typical hometown agency that served the residents of Lyndhurst and surrounding communities. We serviced our business and waited for the phone to ring or for customers to walk in the door. We wrote about 80% personal lines and 20% commercial lines.
In 2000, when I assumed responsibility for the agency, we had no agency management system and were I00% paper based. We used Rough Notes carbon invoices and statements to manage our accounts receivable, and Rough Notes ledger sheets to submit accounts current to our insurers.
When I took the reins, about 90% of our business was written on an agency-billed basis. I immediately set about to reverse this trend and put most of our business on a direct-bill basis with our insurers. At this time, 98% of our business is direct bill.
In 2000, when I assumed responsibility for the agency, we had no agency management system and were 100% paper based. We used Rough Notes carbon invoices and statements to manage our accounts receivable, and Rough Notes ledger sheets to submit accounts current to our insurers.
I immediately purchased an Applied agency management system, and we began the process of converting all of our business from paper to an automated format. We installed computers for everyone in the office, and everyone learned how to use the management system and other pro-grams. I then purchased QuickBooks for accounting, and put all agency bills and payroll on that program.
… and now
When my son, Philip G. Bogle, graduated from Ithaca College in May 2000, he came into the agency with us. I signed him up to take a sales training course that summer, and since then he has been a major producer for all lines of business.
June 2003 marked another major milestone for Bogle Agency Insurance when my daughter, Erica Bogle Patrk, graduated from the University of Rhode Island and entered the agency. She took a keen interest in the accounting and automation side of the operation and oversaw our transition to a paperless environment. She freed me from my administrative and accounting responsibilities so I could start to concentrate on production again.
In 2006, we started to outgrow our existing location, so we began to look for another site in Lyndhurst. We found two old commercial buildings two blocks away; we purchased the properties, demolished the buildings, and constructed a new office building. We moved into the new location in June 2008 and since then have hired additional employees.
Today, Bogle Agency Insurance has 20 employees and revenue just under $5 million. Our business is 75% commercial lines, 15% personal lines, and 10% individual and group life and health. Over the past few years, I’ve been able to pursue new ideas and new segments of the business, and Erica and her team have used technology to take Bogle Agency Insurance to the next level.