‘It was a rare opportunity’ – Manitoba brokerages lift lid on merger

Manitoba: Leaders reveal strategy and direction for combined firm

BSI Insurance and ONE Insurance have unveiled their plans to merge into one company, forming the “largest Manitoba-owned” brokerage network.

Leaders from both brokers spoke to Insurance Business about the strategy behind the move, and how they plan to take the business forward.

“There’s always been that thought out there,” said Nicholas Rawluk (pictured on the left), president and CEO of ONE Insurance. “When BSI saw a management change, it started to make more sense.”

After BSI Insurance’s longtime CEO moved on, shareholders for each company began looking earnestly into bringing the two firms together.

“We thought that there was a lot of great synergies here. There’s complimentary cultures and no overlap,” he said. “We were able come out with a win-win. No branch closures, no job losses, just the positive aspects of a merger, which is rare to a large extent and a nice way to approach a big transaction like this.”

For Pete Tessier (pictured on the right), president and CEO of BSI Insurance, the timing of the merger wasn’t by accident.

“From a timing standpoint, obviously, there’s a lot of consolidation in the insurance intermediary market in Canada, and that also plays a role into it,” said Tessier. “Do you need to be bigger to compete? Do you need to be bigger to maximize value propositions to customers? That’s how we looked at the reason to keep going and pursue this merger.”

What made BSI Insurance and ONE Insurance a good fit?

Established in the 1960s, BSI Insurance has grown to 16 brokerages across Winnipeg and southern Manitoba. It credits its long history in its communities to its unwavering commitment to customer service, expertise in the industry, and affordable rates.

ONE Insurance has been active in Manitoba for 70 years. It has 12 branches: three in Winnipeg, and the rest in neighbouring communities around the central region and into the Interlake.

The combined company will have over 200 employees serving Manitobans through 28 branches.

Both companies will continue to operate under their existing brands while their teams integrate their operations, managing over $200 million in combined annual sales.

Rawluk, who is poised to be president and CEO of the merged company under the ONE Insurance brand, said that the two brokerages each bring specialized knowledge in their respective areas, as well as “engaged” cultures.

“We’re both really aligned. We’re both great investors in people, who are growing within the companies. We also bring a lot of local depth, which is especially important in the rural areas,” Rawluk said.

Tessier, meanwhile, is joining the executive team as vice president, innovation & strategy.

“I get to go play in my passion area, which is looking at ideas and building out a broker of the future,” he said. “What can we do to expand our customer journey and the experience? How do we modernize in the face of increased technological disruption? We need to think not just about the business we have, but the business we want to retain in the future, and what it’s going to take to do that.”

Growth and Expansion Plans

Rawluk elaborated on the next steps for BSI and ONE Insurance as the merger unfolds.

“There will be a bit of navel gazing as we pull this together, but we’re hoping to get it done quickly,” he said. “ONE insurance is licenced in Ontario and Saskatchewan, and BSI has licence in Alberta. So, right off the hop, we will have the ability to continue to write in those four provinces. But it wouldn’t stop us from exploring opportunities to expand with a physical footprint there as well.”

The CEO named Saskatchewan as a “great fit” for the combined company, considering its rural knowledge and skillsets within farm and small commercial insurance. But he’s also not ruling out expansion in Canada’s urban centres.

“We definitely have continued aspirations to grow in core urban,” said Rawluk.

Tessier added that the executive team would go through a period of strategic planning to determine growth priorities after both brokerages ensure their home bases are covered.

“We’re going to focus on [our existing customers] first. This is a customer- and people-driven initiative,” he said.

But if all goes to plan, clients shouldn’t feel a significant disruption in the quality of service from both brokerages amid the transition.

“Our goal is to ensure that our clients are aware and that the people they deal with and the experience they have stay the same,” Tessier said.

Source: Insurance Business:–manitoba-brokerages-lift-lid-on-merger-452096.aspx?e=dXNlckBleGFtcGxlLmNvbQ&utm_content=&tu=&utm_campaign=Editorial-IBC-NS&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin&hss_channel=lcp-15154282