Companies to Watch - April 2011
Company: National Truck League (NTL)
President: Rod Stiller
Year Founded: 1988
# of Employees: 35
Public or Private: Private
Premiums written, 2010: $15 million
National Truck League was created in 1988 to meet a growing need for personalized insurance services for truckers. In 1992 Rod Stiller–an account executive at another brokerage–and his father David (who’d owned a brokerage in the past) teamed up to buy NTL.
Today with Rod Stiller as president, NTL works with customers to identify needs specific to the changing trucking market. “We’ve been doing this for a long time, and we’re really ahead of the curve with the policies we can develop,” Stiller says.
Reasons to Watch
While the recession caused many businesses to pull back and reassess, NTL steamed ahead with a personal touch. Yes, the company’s customers were hurting–fleet operators were cutting jobs and independent truck owners were having difficulties finding work as manufacturers slowed production and reduced transportation budgets. But NTL turned the recession into an opportunity by spending more time communicating with clients, with an eye towards understanding their insurance needs as well as possible.
Stiller says NTL has helped customers implement hiring and retention practices to help ensure clients’ safety records stay clean, and the company has also helped a number of trucking companies find customized coverage that speaks to their challenges.
That close working relationship with clients saw NTL develop new products, and now the brokerage is poised to attract new customers. “We’ve become not so much a vendor as a partner with our fleets,” Stiller says.
In November, NTL unveiled an exclusive health and dental program for truck owners and operators. Recognizing the difficulties that many truck owners/operators face applying for health and dental coverage–they often have to pay higher premiums–NTL crafted a program that’s affordable for policyholders ($80 a month for an individual) and profitable for the carrier.
“We have attracted many new clients because of that,” Stiller says. “We’re getting more participation from existing clients. That was quite a win.”
Retention and hiring issues are the usual suspects for many brokerages, but NTL faces the added challenge of trying to help clients with the same problems.
“One of the key challenges to the trucking industry will in fact be driver recruiting and retention as the economy picks up,” Stiller says, adding that the recession flushed too many drivers out of the industry, leaving the sector bereft of workers as manufacturers come back to life seeking transport for their goods. “We’ve lost a lot of people going from driving truck to other industries. And they may not be coming back.”
Attracting new talent isn’t easy, especially as “Generation Y” enters the workforce seeking a better work-life balance than their parents had. “If they have a family, they don’t want to see them just every weekend. More and more, people want to see their kids at the gymnastics meet or the hockey game. The lifestyle is not very appealing for the long-haul driver.”
For NTL, that spells a need to develop insurance programs that help attract new drivers and retain experienced talent. Stiller says products like the health and dental coverage NTL devised could go some way towards aiding that cause, because comprehensive coverage helps make the truck-driving lifestyle less of burden.
NTL prides itself on developing customized solutions for specific clients, but beyond that, the firm also knows how to spin a one-off answer into an ongoing money maker. Stiller says NTL recently developed an electronic data interchange interface for one of its larger customers. When the work was done, the brokerage turned the solution around and can now offer a similar program to its smaller clients.
Quote from the CEO
“One of the things unique to this brokerage is we are P&C licensed, but we’re also life, accident and sickness licensed. That allows us to really look at the entirety of the risk within a trucking organization.”
NTL supports Kids Alive International, a Christian faith mission dedicated to rescuing orphans and vulnerable children. Through the charity, the company helps fund a Zambia orphanage, home to 20 children.
Head Office: 910 Wilton Grove Road, London, Ont., N6N 1C1
Telephone: 1-800-265-6509; 519-434-4944
Copyright 2011 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the April 2011 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.