Jeff Turner had long harbored ideas on how to operate an independent insurance agency so when he and his business partners Tommy Saxon and Ryan Perry opened Bridge Insurance Partners in Dallas a little more than a year ago, they immediately put those ideas to work. The ideas are paying off. Within a year they have grown the business they bought from their previous employer, Fort Worth-based Higginbotham and Associates, by more than 100 percent.
Lifelong friends, Turner and Saxon had leadership positions in Higginbotham’s Dallas office in late 2007 when they negotiated to buy their books of business. Perry joined them from Sleeper Sewell Insurance Services, also headquartered in Dallas.
While the agency is a “generalist to some degree,” the firm is targeting a half dozen industries. The areas of concentration include health care, with an emphasis on medical malpractice or professional liability for surgery centers, hospitals and other health care provider organizations; real estate; private equity; manufacturing and wholesale distribution; life sciences and certain construction accounts.
Bridge was able to secure financing without much difficulty. “We really had no problems raising money,” Turner said. Between a bank and investments from three clients, Bridge was able to secure working capital for the first 15 months of operations. They approached only one bank, Dallas-based Park Cities Bank. “We went to them with a business plan and an explanation of what we did and the book of business that we would be acquiring from Higginbotham,” Turner said.
The partners also were successful in securing carriers. “We feel really fortunate that every carrier we approached said ‘yes,'” Turner said. “We were really specific with the carriers we chose. Our thought was we don’t want everybody, but carriers that we know we can be faithful to and give a lot of business to. That approach worked really well.”
The economic downturn has not yet hurt business but it could affect the agency and its clients going forward, Turner said. As they are new in business, he and his partners would need financial partners for any acquisitions. “It has the potential to slow expansion,” Turner said.
Other agents are also starting new agencies across the country, according to an Insurance Journal report profiling some of the industry’s newest entrepreneurs. The other profiles include:
Florida’s VanDyke Norman Agency
South Dakota’s GSN Insurance
Chattanooga Insurance Agency in Tennessee
California’s Timothy Gaspar Insurance Services
Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC
Nevada’s Trenchant Insurance Agency New Kid on Block
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