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Business Observer Friday, Aug. 10, 2018 4 months ago

Insurance agency partners with national organization to fuel growth

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Al Purmort Insurance was founded in 1985.

With consolidation among independent insurance brokers at a zenith nationally, two area executives, to borrow from a sports analogy, preferred an explosive offense to a stout defense.

“I’ve always said if you’re not growing you’re dying,” says Al Purmort Insurance President Al Purmort. “In our business right now that’s true but on steroids.”

That’s why Sarasota-based Al Purmort Insurance, with $33 million in 2017 revenues, quietly became part of Carmel, Ind.-based Shepherd Insurance, a five-time Inc. magazine 5000 winner with 340 employees and 18 offices nationwide. The move, in which Purmort and the agency president and COO, Patrick DelMedico, maintained ownership of the firm, was made official in January 2016. It provides the support for Al Purmort Insurance to grow, but maintain its name and marketing in the local market. The main difference to local people, says Purmort, is the checks now say Shepherd.

Patrick Del Medico with Al Purmort Insurance

“This was a continuation strategy, not an exit strategy,” adds Purmort, who traces his family’s history in insurance to the 1870s in Ohio. Purmort’s father, Al Purmort Sr., founded the current firm in 1985. “Now if our kids want to be a part of this, they will be able to for a long time.”

Other area independent agencies have taken similar offensive action, seeking to partner with the right cultural fit than lose clients to bigger competitors. Rolling Meadows, Ill-based Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., for example, acquired Naples-based Lutgert Insurance in 2017 and Lakewood Ranch-based MGA Insurance in 2014. “Having mass is critical right now in our business,” Del Medico says.    

The heft gained with the Shepherd partnership, say Del Medico and Purmort, enhance the firm’s prospects in a way it couldn’t do on its own. That includes providing opportunities for Purmort agents to specialize and find new niches. Al Purmort adds that the firm, prior to Shepherd, didn’t have the ability to follow clients as they grew outside of Florida. It also rarely chased business for large companies, with 1,000 and more employees. “You don’t want to risk losing a client because they got too big for us to handle,” Purmort says.

Now Purmort and the Al Purmort team can go after the bigger clients. The partnership has also paid off in another way: the agency, after several years of single-digit percentage growth, could hit $50 million in revenues in 2018, Purmort says, if several deals close as anticipated. That would be a 50% boost in sales.

 

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