Broker corner: Where everybody knows your name

Devon Hoff talks mergers and customer service, with a side of whisky and potato chips



Finding customers a great deal on insurance and a bottle of whisky? That’s all in a day’s work for Devon Hoff, branch manager of Hoff Insurance in the small community of Rouleau, Saskatchewan.

“You’ll see that in a lot of smaller, family-run businesses,” Hoff told Canadian Insurance Top Broker. “There are usually one or two or three things that [businesses] do under one roof, and this makes them that much more profitable at the end of the day.”

Hoff has been surrounded by the insurance industry his entire life. His parents owned a brokerage when he was growing up, but he didn’t opt to go down that path initially. He moved to Saskatoon for a couple years, but decided to take over his parents’ business when he returned to Rouleau in 2009.

In a town with only 540 inhabitants, each business must serve multiple purposes, he notes. That’s why Hoff Insurance sells pop and potato chips, in addition to insurance and liquor.

“Our customers aren’t just a number—they’re people to us.”

“All employees handle the liquor, the convenience and the insurance side. We’re all trained on all of it,” Hoff says. “We have a liquor franchise in Rouleau, which sells beer and liquor and wine, and then we also sell cigarettes, chips, pop—anything that kind of goes with the liquor.”

Hoff also offers a dry-cleaning service, although the cleaning itself is done offsite in Regina.

Hoff ’s home, auto, commercial and farm insurance business has grown over the years. In 2012, Hoff purchased three offices from Grainbelt Agencies in the nearby towns of Yellow Grass, Pangman and Milestone. But the brokerage’s biggest leap came earlier this year, when it was acquired by Regina-based Harvard Western Insurance.

“Our philosophies really lined up, and [we] have really good connections and rapport with all their staff from a few years back,” Hoff says of Harvard Western and its president and CEO Dave Pettigrew, whom he has known for years. “It’s good because we’re getting a little bit more help now with Dave’s crew, and we can offer a little bit of assistance to Dave’s crew on some of the farming insurance areas.”

The merger will see Hoff rebrand under the Harvard banner in 2019, but that won’t change what Hoff says his company is best known for: “small-town service, big-city options.”

“We want to make sure we continue to have the client come to the broker and sit in on an insurance-world conversation,” Hoff said. “Our customers aren’t just a number—they’re people to us.”

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Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. This article first appeared in the May edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine

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