Hub International Acquires N.J.’s Sondheim & Laughlin, Mass. Commonwealth Insurance Agency

Chicago-based Hub International announced two new acquisitions to its growing network of regional brokerages. It has acquired the stock of Sondheim & Laughlin, Inc. of Iselin, New Jersey and the assets of Commonwealth Insurance Agency, Inc. of Lowell, Massachusetts, both for an undisclosed amount of cash.

Sondheim, founded in 1875, specializes in arranging auto physical damage and liability insurance for the public auto and limousine industry. It has annual revenue of approximately $2 million. Hub’s bulletin said the “firm will remain in Iselin and become part of the Company’s New York City hub, Kaye Group Inc.”

Commonwealth has approximately $300,000 in annual revenue, and specializes in arranging homeowners insurance for clients primarily in Massachusetts. It will become part of the Company’s New England hub, C.J. McCarthy Insurance Agency, Inc. headquartered in Wilmington, Mass., where Commonwealth will relocate. “Edgar J. Sidon, Commonwealth’s owner, will become a Vice President at McCarthy, reporting to Richard J. Palleschi, President,” said the announcement.

Sondheim’s President, Robert Laughlin, will retire. Vice President George Hansen, who’s been with the company for 20 years, will become a Vice President of Kaye Group, reporting to Howard Nenner, First Vice President. Hub ‘s announcement noted that “Nenner joined Kaye Group in September 2002 when Kaye acquired C.S. Nenner, Inc., a Bordentown, New Jersey specialist in placing transportation and warehousing coverage for trucking companies.”

Hub Chairman and CEO Martin P. Hughes commented, “We are very pleased to expand our transportation insurance specialty business and to bolster our impact in New Jersey by adding the strength of the Sondheim firm and George Hansen’s expertise to the existing capability of Howard Nenner’s group. This advances a major component of our strategy: broadening and deepening our specialty offerings to middle market businesses – in this case in the very busy northeastern commercial corridor.”

Commenting on the Commonwealth acquisition, Hughes noted, “Commonwealth and Ed Sidon are an excellent fit at McCarthy. Ed Sidon has a fine business that will enhance McCarthy’s impact with our Homeowners carriers and broaden our customer base in the territory. This additional strength, of course, benefits our clients.”

Hub International operates 11 regional “hubs” – Kaye group and McCarthy are two of them – and is one of the largest insurance brokerages in North America. The company noted that its “growth strategy includes the acquisition of large entrepreneurial brokerages that service primarily middle market clients, and the expansion of these regional hubs through fold-in acquisitions of smaller, local firms.” Since January 1, 2003 it has made six “fold-in acquisitions,” including Sondheim.