How to build a successful brokerage – from a man who’s done it

How to build a successful brokerage – from a man who’s done it

How to build a successful brokerage – from a man who’s done it Establishing a successful insurance brokerage is no easy task. It takes time, expertise and considerable amounts of sweat. There are some people that seem to get it just right – but what are the secrets to their success?

Gregg Bundschuh and David Colings are co-founders and equity partners of Greyling Insurance Brokerage, a division of Epic Insurance. Together, they developed Greyling as a specialty brokerage in the construction and engineering niche.

Shortly after it formed in 2002, the brokerage stormed to success and quickly started to compete with, and outplay huge global companies. In 2014, Greyling merged with Epic Insurance in a quest to expand its horizons and further develop the specialty services it could offer to clients.

“We built our business independently as Greyling Insurance Brokerage 15-years-ago,” Bundschuh told Insurance Business. “We thought that developing a niche specialty insurance brokerage was a valid opportunity to differentiate ourselves from the competition, including the largest global brokerages out there like Marsh and Aon.

“Very quickly, we had more specialized resources in the architect and engineering niche than the global brokerages did. This meant we were able to compete effectively for upper and mid-market business based on our aggregation of specialty talent.”

The Greyling team continued to build the business with that niche philosophy until it became time to consider future growth, succession and positive transition for clients and company employees. They started to investigate opportunities to merge with a larger firm with a platform that could become “a real home for specialty practices as a business niche.”

“Our goal was to find a willing company that would see our business philosophy and our view of seamless and primary service delivery to clients as being paramount,” said Bundschuh. “Epic Insurance was introduced to us quite early on – and it was a great fit. Epic was in the early stages of developing itself as a larger scale brokerage and they were amenable to supporting us as an independent business unit, with room for expansion and the possibility of generating other successful niche businesses like Greyling.”

The merger took place in October 2014 and has been mutually beneficial for both firms, according to Bundschuh. Since the transaction, Greyling has almost doubled both its revenue and personnel.

The secret to Greyling’s success is the value of the services it provides, said Bundschuh. The brokerage acquires every client with the same approach – using analytics to illustrate a prospective client’s ideal insurance and risk management program.

“We reject the notion that a broker’s value to a client is based solely on premium quotes and price,” Bundschuh added. “We don’t quote. It’s not a demonstration of long-term value, nor is it in the client’s best interests.

“The tact we’ve taken instead is to offer our own sweat equity. We undertake a comprehensive analysis of a client’s insurance program and we benchmark limits, deductibles and premium against comparable peer groups. The ability to demonstrate not only short-term savings and efficiencies, but also long-term consultative advice, is what has differentiated us as a specialty brokerage over time. I attribute that holistic differentiation to our ability to provide services that resonate with the industry more broadly.”

Another factor underlying Greyling’s efficiency and success is its paperless philosophy. The company has been paperless from the offset, which has “dramatically facilitated [its] efficiency,” according to Bundschuh. But while Greyling was an early adopter of basic technology, the brokerage does not think of technology as a fundamental part of the business.

Bundschuh said: “The consultative services we offer are what our clients care about. Fortunately, there is no robot or artificial intelligence that has yet replaced us or threatened us for that level of thinking and delivery.”

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