How ‘friendly rivals’ in Texas became collaborators

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How ‘friendly rivals’ in Texas became collaborators


How “Friendly Rivals” Became Collaborators in Texas | Insurance business America

The two agencies merged last month

Insurance News

By Gia Snape

Higginbotham announced its merger with fellow competitor Barnard Insurance Agency last month.

The Fort Worth giant joined forces with the family-run Wichita Falls agency, which specializes in commercial insurance for the energy, construction, hospitality and manufacturing industries.

John K. Barnard (pictured), managing director of Barnard Insurance Agency, spoke to Insurance Business about the crucial move and the long-standing relationship between his firm and Higginbotham.

“We were a small insurance agency that was community-driven, giving back and caring for our people and many generations of their families,” Barnard said. “[But] Over the last 10 years, the need to offer our customers added value has grown.

“For the first time we can work together [Higginbotham]pick each other’s brains and connect more as teammates rather than competitors.”

“We will never sell to any of the big companies”

For Barnard, his agency’s new chapter is significant for several reasons. Family-owned since 1931, Barnard is the fourth generation owner of the 97-year-old business.

“My great-grandfather founded our agency. “I was always taught from a young age, ‘We’re never going to sell to any of the big companies.’ That didn’t make sense to us,” Barnard revealed.

Barnard Insurance Agency’s longevity in the industry is due to a deep connection to the community and an unwavering commitment to customer service, Barnard said. However, the insurance landscape changed and with it the needs and expectations of customers.

His initial skepticism about merging with a better-known company began to change as he observed the operations of Higginbotham, which has a presence in Wichita Falls.

“Shane Smith, the general manager here, was my neighbor. Our children were the same age and we got along wonderfully,” Barnard recalls. “It opened my eyes to the idea that maybe these big companies aren’t so bad after all. They have the same goals and values ​​as us.”

This personal connection, coupled with industry trends and internal factors such as his Uncle Bill’s readiness to retire, caused Barnard to rethink his stance.

“Continuity became an issue and we just had to deal with it,” Barnard said.

Honoring a legacy while embracing change

Barnard has been promoted to co-managing director of the Higginbotham branch in Wichita Falls, along with Shane Smith. His uncle and former partner Bill Barnard retired March 1 and is helping the team with the transition over the next year and a half.

Barnard said the merger with Higginbotham brought significant changes both operationally and culturally. One of the most influential changes was the introduction of employee participation.

“It is a unique opportunity for our employees to transition from working for an insurance agency for a long time to becoming an owner,” he noted.

It has also created new opportunities for proactive customer engagement and expanded service offerings. This proactive stance represents a departure from the traditional reactive approach and allows the agency to better anticipate and respond to client needs.

“For the first time we can be proactive and introduce these [options] for our insureds, and it is an exciting matter,” Barnard said. “We can launch with the Higginbotham name and then we can go in and shine and make people aware of our expertise and give us opportunities we’ve never had before.”

Reflecting on the decision, Barnard said the biggest change the partnership with Higginbotham brought was being able to draw on a larger team for help.

“We used to feel like we were on an island as Bernard Insurance Agency, the little guy with a chip on our shoulder who was always fighting for everything. This applies to relationships with mobile phone providers as well as to the creation and maintenance of accounts. Now we are part of a much larger team where everyone works together,” he told Insurance Business. “Little things like networking make a big difference.”

“Barnard Insurance Group … has accounts that are 60 years old and a wall in their office celebrating team members who have been on board for 30 years or more,” Reid said in a news release.

“They have excellent relationships with insurance carriers and irreplaceable expertise in the energy industry. And the best part is that we already know them and know that we will be happy to work with them.”

What do you think about the collaboration between Barnard Insurance Agency and Higginbotham? Please share your comments below.

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How ‘friendly rivals’ in Texas became collaborators



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2024-06-24 17:17:10

www.insurancebusinessmag.com