GTA Growth

RRJ Insurance Group's growth through acquisitions has created a new powerhouse in the Greater Toronto Area

Two years ago, Paul Martin, president and COO of KRG Insurance Brokers, and his partners were looking for a strategic partner to expand their community reach. They were introduced to co-CEOs Abraham Baboujian and Jennifer James of Toronto-based Roger R. James Insurance. Baboujian and James also had a vision to grow their business. At the time, Roger R. James Insurance had purchased Frost Insurance Brokers and Whetter Oaklin Insurance Brokers, and was in the process of closing the purchase of Schofield-Aker Insurance.

Shortly thereafter, RRJ Insurance Group Limited was born. Today, the combined firm has three brokerage offices under the umbrella of RRJ Insurance Group, and operates under the names KRG Insurance Brokers, Frost Whetter Oaklin Insurance Brokers, and Schofield-Aker Insurance.

L-R: Abraham Baboujian, Jennifer James, Paul Martin of RRJ Insuance Group

“We felt there was value in each local brand because they were long-established names in the community,” says Martin. “When we merged the offices, we weren’t there to change the culture or community commitment, but to nurture the individual strengths and provide leverage for the better of the Group. Having this group in place allowed us to better service our customers and offer a wider base of knowledge, expertise, products and services.”

The head office of RRJ Insurance Group remains in Toronto, headed by co-CEO Baboujian. The combined firm employs 100 people, and writes about $110 million in premiums per year. The KRG branch serves the Greater Toronto Area and specializes in commercial lines and V.I.P. home and personal auto lines. Schofield-Aker, located in Oshawa, Ont., serves the Durham Region in personal home and auto as well as commercial lines, including emerging business opportunities. Frost Whetter Oaklin operates out of downtown Lindsay, Ont., and serves the Kawartha Lakes area with specialties in local commercial businesses, farms, not-for-profit, tourism, vintage cars and recreational vehicles.

“We represent all of the major markets in Canada,” says Martin. “We have access to the best products and services. We listen to our clients’ needs and offer comprehensive solutions.”

The company is also keenly focused on claims as part of its service strategy. “If you can stay involved in the claims process, and make sure the client is happy, it helps you to better understand their business, which ensures we continue to provide superior service,” adds Martin.

Succession Strategy

One of the main goals at RRJ Insurance Group is growing the business and looking for strategic opportunities to strengthen the group, says Baboujian.

The company aims to be the succession plan of choice for brokers that are looking for an exit strategy, a retirement plan, or to strengthen their proposition to customers.

“We want them to know we will treat their customers with respect, maintain the high level of service their customers expect, as well as offer them a role in the new company going forward,” says Martin.

RRJ acquired another two books of business in July and August, says Martin. Though rapid company growth is great for business, there have been some challenges, such as the incorporation of agency management systems while upholding customer service.

“During the amalgamation it was important that we maintained two very important areas of focus,” he says. “One group kept our customer service levels up, and the other took care of all tasks in bringing the offices together. Everyone had a hand in the actual merger, including the grunt work that comes with moving offices.”

Continuing Education

The RRJ Insurance Group finds support attracting new talent from Seneca College’s Financial Services Property and Casualty Program. This program develops new sales-oriented producers, and is backed by the Insurance Institute.

The 14-week program was developed last year for those who are looking for a career change in the insurance field. Students are educated in sales, marketing, customer service and technology, and are RIBO-licensed upon completion.

“RRJ Insurance Group has retained several of its most talented employees from this program,” says Martin.

© Copyright 2010 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the September 2010 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.

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