Billyard Insurance Group focuses on national expansion

Billyard Insurance Group focuses on national expansion | Insurance Business Canada

Billyard Insurance Group focuses on national expansion

The BIG family is growing … quickly. BIG, short for Billyard Insurance Group, has made a series of significant announcements since May 2021, including successful expansions into Western and Eastern Canada, and the launch of several new branch locations in the brokerage’s home province of Ontario. 

Founded in 1998, BIG is a locally owned, independent insurance brokerage, headquartered in Welland, ON. Since 2014, Stephen Billyard (president) and Cody Duoma (vice president) have been spearheading the company vision to “think BIG” with an eye toward national expansion.

Billyard (pictured) explained: “National expansion was the next obvious growth opportunity for us. Our business model provides the support and structure we needed to expand the business on a national scale.”

On May 10, BIG launched its first national branch location in Alberta, officially making its mark on Western Canada. Three months later, on August 16, BIG officially expanded into Nova Scotia, making its first stamp on Eastern Canada.

“As BIG grows, we see ourselves becoming a strong national brokerage,” said Jennifer Smith, BIG’s director of business development. “Having expanded into Alberta early this year, and now in Nova Scotia, this strategic move will further propel our long-term business goal of building a strong national presence.” 

Read more: Dreaming big – Stephen Billyard on why the “sky is the limit”

BIG has also expanded its presence in Ontario, where it now has 52 established branches serving communities across the province. On June 18, the brokerage launched a new branch in Oshawa, which will be led by husband-and-wife team Behishta Naeme and Mujtaba Koreishi, and on August 20, BIG opened three new branch offices in the Greater Toronto Area – BIG Stouffville, BIG St. Clair, and BIG Thornhill. 

“A lot has changed since we were operating out of a little house in Welland, ON,” said Billyard, who teamed up with his sister to purchase the brokerage off their parents in 2014. “We now have 60 offices across four provinces – Ontario, Alberta, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick – with over 500 employees and a quarter of a billion in gross written premium (GWP). Most of that growth has been in the last four years; that’s when we’ve really got things moving.”

When BIG enters a new province, or opens a new branch location, the decision always revolves around people. Billyard explained that BIG’s organic growth comes from giving talented and entrepreneurial brokers the opportunity to build their own brokerages in their local communities.

“They open up a BIG branch office in their community, and they operate that branch office,” he said. “We give them the tools, technology, training, branding, and support they need in order to be successful.

“BIG actually started as a technology company, but as it evolved, we realized we are both a technology and a people company. People still want to do business in the communities where they live, and they still want the representation of a local broker. So, we focus our technology on providing tools that make the insurance buying and selling process easier. We want to make our brokers’ jobs easier, so they can focus on serving their customers.”

Read next: Billyard Insurance Group expands into Western Canada with new branch

Whenever announcing expansion into a new territory, BIG makes a point of stating that the brokerage is always looking for experienced and motivated insurance professionals, who want to partner and grow with the brokerage. Despite BIG being so technology-focused, being tech savvy is not a make or break in potential partnerships.

“Being tech savvy isn’t a prerequisite for being a great insurance broker,” according to Billyard. “But having the right technology and learning how to use it so that you can perform a job better – that’s key.”

Moving forward, BIG will continue to focus on its national expansion, said the brokerage president. He commented: “We’re in the middle of that now, and there’s an awful lot of opportunity out there. We’ve got a number of provinces that we haven’t yet expanded into, so we’re going to focus on that in the near future.

“We’re also focused on continuing to build out our technology. There’s a lot of opportunities to really accelerate both growth and improve the customer service experience, and so that’s where we’re putting our energy. We really feel like we have so many outstanding people in our company. All of our managing partners in all of our offices are entrepreneurial, eager and ready to grow, and every time we give them another tool to make their jobs easier, they run with it, and they grow their offices, and we’re going to continue that expansion.”