Longtime Kansas independent agent Jack Cassell had never dreamed of going into business for himself, but all that changed nine years ago. That’s when insurance agency franchisor Brooke Franchise Corp. entered the picture for Cassell. Through different Brooke operations, Cassell obtained financial backing and other professional services, enabling him to buy and operate two multi-lines Brooke Insurance agencies in his home state.
Cassell’s two agencies are modest in premium volume — $7 million combined and staff sizes of four employees at offices in Wichita and Emporia. Cassell says he’s happy, he’s his own boss, and besides, he gets to work with his 33-year-old son, Matt. “Without Brooke,” he admitted, “I wouldn’t have been able to go into business with Matt.”
Matt had been in the hotel franchising industry for five years before changing careers and going to work with his father. “Matt had been happy with what he had been doing, but in a rare showing of poor judgment he accepted my offer to come to work with me,” Cassell joked.
Before getting the opportunity to go into business with his son, the 64-year-old Cassell had been working at Manning & Smith Insurance in Wichita for about five years when his boss made him a business proposal that caught him by surprise.
“One day,” Cassell recalled, “my boss walked into my office, said he was planning to sell the business, and asked me if I’d be interested in buying some of it. Heck, I was happy working for him. I enjoyed selling insurance and the interaction with customers. But when the opportunity came up to own my own business, I capitalized on it.”
Cassell made what he described as “a few informal inquiries” at local banks to gauge their interest in lending him purchasing money, but not much came of that. For a long-term loan, Cassell turned to Brooke Credit Corp., a sister company of Brooke Franchise Corp. “I got it and it enabled me to buy my agency’s P/C book of business. I probably couldn’t have gotten the financing without Brooke,” says Cassell, an independent agent for 27 years.
In 2004, again with Brooke financing, Cassell bought his second agency, Heath & Bloxom in Emporia.
- Ron Lent