I always love to start the New Year with reflection and gratitude.
At the close of 2021, there is much to be grateful for! It was a stellar year across the Keystone Agency Partners portfolio. And I want to take a moment to pay tribute to the cornerstones that propped up Keystone Agency Partners as the company continues their trajectory of rapid growth. Speaking not only as the executive vice chairman of Keystone Agency Partners and the CEO of Keystone Insurers Group, I wanted to pause on this inflection point and speak about why we brought this platform to life in the first place alongside Bain Capital.
As many people close to me know, I am proud to have been the first employee of Keystone in 1987. Today, we have grown our local business in Central Pennsylvania to the 4th largest independent insurance agency network in the U.S. now operating across 17 states with approximately 300 agencies in our network. This achievement did not come without a great deal of hard work and growing pains from our entire team along the way. Our primary goal at Keystone has always been in servicing the retail insurance agencies and in a sense providing a glue to an otherwise fiercely independent space.
In fact, our mission in founding Keystone Agency Partners in 2020 stands true to that sentiment in offering an investment partner that would preserve the independent nature for our network of agencies while continuing to fuel the industry in a competitive way.
Now, as Keystone Agency Partners continues to expand, the company benefits from the established network of the distinguished Keystone operating philosophy and vision. The goal always was to provide an option for agency owners to perpetuate their business while still remaining a contributing factor to the overall growth of Keystone. Today, we honor agencies who have raised a hand for investment and resources while continuing to fuel the Keystone network.
Our offering to KAP partners is rich:
- One of the greatest commitments in our partnership should be to agency preservation. Many partners focus on growth as the number one measure of success. It is important to be sure, but I would advocate to focus on preservation – and growth will follow. If a partnership directs its efforts on the long-term preservation of the business, then it will naturally put in place prudent growth initiatives and explore smart paths for expansion.
- We strike the balance of cooperative competition for our independent insurance agencies. Instead of pitting one agency against another, the Keystone network provides resources, expertise and capabilities to enable its agencies to benefit from cooperative competition. There is scale, collaboration and intellectual capital that our network provides agencies to then enhance their business and build deeper client servicing relationships.
- With the proper partnerships, agencies can accelerate the attainment of their mission. The old adage – “two heads are better than one” – is apt here. Strong partnerships can accomplish goals that neither could dream of on their own. These accomplishments will position each agency on a better path for long-term success and continuation. It will also strengthen the overall network, making it more desirable for other agencies to join.
- Partners keep their word. Trust is everything. Keystone’s success today across all of it’s related companies is solely predicated upon this fact. If you make a pledge, stand by it and do everything in your power to make it come to fruition.
- Keystone agencies do the “right thing” 100 percent of the time. They respect each other and they own their mistakes. Many decisions that cross my desk as CEO have no easy answer. But at Keystone, we always attempt to do what we believe is right. And in so doing, we have found that the outcomes typically work out. The decisions may lead to a difficult path, tough work, or hard-to-swallow compromises, but the conclusion will be right and just.
As I look ahead to 2022, I am filled with enthusiasm for the prospects I see for Keystone Agency Partners and its growing platform of independent insurance agency partners who remain vested agencies in the Keystone network. I’m filled with gratitude for being able to offer this positioning to market and the value the independent insurance agencies have found in our business over the years.
If you are an agency owner, I invite you to explore how KAP can help you super-charge your business and the benefits to joining a network like Keystone’s. I promise we have the team, the resources and the “lessons learned” to be the long-term partner you are looking for.
Have a wonderful and prosperous New Year.