As Agency Checklists reported recently, Acrisure, one of the top insurance brokerage firms in the country has announced the completion of a $2.9 billion-dollar buyout late last year. Originally announced in October, the deal, which is a management-led buyout, has permitted the brokerage’s agency insurance partners to buy back the majority stake in Acrisure, add a new equity partner (ABRY Partners) with the former private equity firm owner retaining a minority stake.
A Midwestern firm based in Michigan, Acrisure was started by CEO and Founder Greg Williams in 2005
While Acrisure is a top 10 national brokerage firm, many Massachusetts agents may be unfamiliar with the company or its culture. A Midwestern firm based out of Michigan, the company was started by CEO and Founder Greg Williams in 2005. The company, however, has kept a low profile over the past decade while pursuing an ambitious growth plan.
In 2013, Genstar Capital acquired a majority stake in the firm, which spurred the company into an ambitious growth and acquisition plan. As a result, over the past three years the company has acquired over 120 agencies. Among those acquired during this three-year period of intense growth were three independent agencies here in Massachusetts: Aronson Insurance of Needham and Sharon; Sullivan, Garrity, Donnelly, of Worcester; and Northwood Insurance of Hyannis and Northborough.
One of the major draws, says agents, is that unlike other major brokerage firms, Acrisure does not run its own insurance agency. The firm instead actively partners with “the best and brightest” agencies and then lets those agencies continue their success by running them without any interference.
This was the main reason behind independent agent Steve Aronson’s decision to sign on as an agency partner.
Mr. Aronson’s decision to join Acrisure…
On April 1st, 2016, Mr. Aronson announced to friends and family that the future of an “independent” Aronson Insurance had been “secured.” In explaining the reasons behind his decision, Mr. Aronson highlighted the plight of many successful independent agencies like Aronson Insurance. “I’m not getting any younger,” admitted Mr. Aronson. “And, none of my three kids are interested in a great career in insurance –they are all off living their dreams… So, there will be no 4th generation of Aronson’s at Aronson Insurance.” Face with this reality, Mr. Aronson says he realized that he had to begin to take action in order to make the right plan for his agency’s future.
“I’ve been talking to potential ‘partners’ for over two years,” he noted. “Since I am not planning to retire any time soon, I needed a partner who would let me, and my great team, continue to run the agency just the way we have – winning awards year after year. At the end of each potential-partner meeting, [however] it was clear that they wanted to fold us into their organization and take over our agency,” which Mr. Aronson noted was “… not my plan.”
Enter Acrisure. Late in 2015, Mr. Aronson was introduced to Greg Williams, the CEO of Acrisure and soon knew it was the right fit for his agency. “…[T]hey don’t actually run an insurance agency, they are only partnering with the best agencies across the country – agencies who will continue to be the best without any interference from Acrisure. This is just what I had been looking for. It’s the Berkshire Hathaway model – don’t interfere with management or they will no longer be the best company in their space.”
Mr. Aronson says that the benefits of this type of model allow him to continue on with Aronson Insurance for the foreseeable future, but with the knowledge that his father Norman’s legacy will continue on. “I remain President of the agency, with my great management team continuing to run the agency on a day-to-day basis. Someday, in the (distant) future, when I decide to slow down, we now have a succession plan in place, ensuring our staff of a great place to work and our clients of continued great customer service.”
As a result, for this Mass. independent agency, the decision to become an insurance agency partner with Acrisure has offered the best of both worlds to a family-owned agency without an heir.
As Mr. Aronson knows that there are many other agencies in Massachusetts dealing with this issue, he has shared his experience on Agency Checklists, in order to help his fellow agents. Mr. Aronson says that anyone interested in learning more about Acrisure and the benefits of becoming an insurance agency partner can reach out to him directly at Steven@AronsonInsurance.com or 781-444-3050.