Tompkins Insurance Agency

Our previous Rough Notes cover agents were impressed by the synergy Tompkins Insurance Agencies, Batavia, New York, was able to achieve with Tompkins Financial Corp., a financial services holding company that purchased the agency in 2001. As one voter commented: “I really like this model if done right” and this clearly was done right.

David Boyce, president of Tompkins Insurance Agencies, points out that the acquisition “has been nothing less than an outstanding move for our employees,” noting that as a small rural agency operating only in western New York State, the agency was unable to offer a career path to its employees. “Now we can bring young people into our organization and give them a career path. Before the acquisition, we didn’t have the plethora of opportunities available to offer our people.”

These career opportunities grew as the agency expanded following the acquisition. It went from a one location agency with $3.4 million in revenue, to an agency with 26 offices throughout New York State and southeastern Pennsylvania.

Revenues now exceed $28 million, boosted by 12 acquisitions and strong organic growth. And that growth definitely impressed another voter who pointed out that “it’s not easy to grow as large as they have in rural areas.” David goes on to note that staff members receive, on average, 50 hours of training designed to give each per- son the opportunity to advance. He points out that

“Some of our college grads have moved into marketing or IT.
In fact, they can be found in a whole lot of places—some remaining in insurance and others moving into banking opportunities.”

 Common Goals

One of the key reasons the merger worked so well “is the fact that we are affiliated with a community bank, so we really started out on the same page when it came to getting involved in the community and really giving back to the communities we serve to show how grateful we are for their support. Our banking, wealth management and insurance employees are all involved in the communities where they live and work.”

Another important reason for the success is that all 1,100 people in the group (170 are in insurance) play for the acorn and leaf (the corporation’s logo). “To help with that,” David says, “we established a Joint Opportunities Committee that is composed of insurance, banking and wealth management people. The committee meets regularly, planning a number of social events designed to build personal relationships among the employees of all affiliates.”

The committee also goes door to door to educate staff on what each affiliate does, bringing with them the message that “we make referrals to our sister companies because it is in the best interest of our mutual clients. Referrals benefit our clients, which in turn, helps our organization grow and prosper. A portion of our new business comes from these referrals,” David proudly reports. “The power of partnership has become a key part of the DNA of our company.” He concludes: “While we are so integrally connected to our bank partners, our leadership team strives to ensure that we remain a successful independent agency. I am convinced we are living up to this goal.”