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Growing West

Toronto's Tredd Insurance Brokers is chasing big risks in the oil patch

Company: Tredd Insurance Brokers

President: Ron Trecroce

Tredd, as the reincarnation of my previous companies, got its start in November ’09. What came before was a company called Hargraft Wood Fleming. That was one of the oldest brokerages in Toronto—it was created in 1874. I purchased Hargraft in 1989 with two partners. We grew Hargraft Wood Fleming—which, when we sold it in 2006, was called Hargraft Shofield Limited—through organic growth and acquisition. Our premiums went from about $10 million to $120 million. We sold 80% of the business, in 2006, to an income trust, but in October of 2006 the government shut down the income trust model and they no longer had access to capital. The income trust was an anchor around our necks, so at that point I said, “Let’s try to buy back Hargraft.” We made, I think, three offers, but they couldn’t accept. So they fired my partner, Ian Eddy, and me in 2008 and we had a one-year non-competition agreement. And we opened our doors a year and a week later. Tredd Insurance Brokers stands for my last name, Trecroce, his last name, Eddy, with three first letters of both our last names and we just shared the ‘e’ because we’re partners. We opened our doors with nothing at all. But within that first week, I think we took back the ten top Hargraft accounts right away. A lot of people were probably skeptical of what we were going to do and how we were going to do it, but it happened and we started staffing up right away.

We’re not a typical insurance brokerage; we don’t do personal lines. We have always wanted to maintain a very large commercial book of business. Our focus is oil and gas, heavy manufacturing, anything with a large complicated liability component—D&O, E&O, pollution—anything with a risk management component to it. In my view, people will not be purchasing personal lines insurance through a broker anymore. I think it will be disposed of within the next five years—ten maximum. We’ve seen the landscape change dramatically and we’re trying to stay ahead of that curve. It’s the value-added, it’s our knowledge and our service that we’re selling—and that’s where our margins are.

In my view, people will not be purchasing personal lines insurance through a broker anymore. We’ve seen the landscape change dramatically and we’re trying to stay ahead of that curve.

In July ’10, we opened TreddWest. One of our largest clients is in the oil and gas industry out west. Although I’ve had the account for 12 or 13 years, I’ve made a commitment to Western Canada that I would have boots on the ground, in Calgary, to be able to provide support when I wasn’t available. So a gentleman that I had hired at Hargraft, Greg Peck, I made a partner in TreddWest and he moved to Calgary to open the facility there. After opening TreddWest, I realized that if you really wanted penetration in that marketplace you had to have intrinsic value. So in February ’12, I purchased Mayfair Insurance Brokers. That was a small, tuck-in acquisition that just rolled right into TreddWest. In August ’12, we purchased HE Hunt Insurance Brokers and then in March of this year we purchased BKI. Our total employee force in the Tredd group of companies, is now 42 people. It’s happened very, very quickly. But the size of our clients has pushed our growth. We’re actually looking for an opportunity in Houston, Texas as well. We have a very large footprint in the oil and gas industry in Canada and some of our clients have offices in Houston. Our clients are saying, “Come on Tredd, we want representation in Houston.”

— As told to Regan Reid

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Copyright 2013 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the June 2013 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.

Transcontinental Media G.P.