Fresh from closing four acquisitions in western Canada, large brokerage Westland Insurance Group plans to continue exploring opportunities in the west, as well as consider deals that would move the brokerage in a more easterly direction.
Westland announced on Sept. 2 the closing of four acquisitions (effective Aug. 31) in Alberta, British Columbia and, for the first time, Manitoba. Post-acquisition, Westland will have nearly 1,500 employees and more than 120 offices in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The latest acquisitions add four branches and over 30 employees to the brokerage.
Canadian Underwriter recently asked Jamie Lyons, Westland’s president and chief operating officer, what prompted the decision to move into Manitoba. And were there plans to acquire other brokerages in the province in the future?
“Manitoba is a very exciting province for Westland Insurance and we are thrilled to be entering the market through the acquisition of King Insurance,” Lyons said Friday. “As a market leader in western Canada, our intention is to continue exploring additional opportunities in Manitoba, while also moving further eastward by acquiring additional best-in-class brokerages across Canada.”
Founded in 1962, King Insurance is a family-owned brokerage located in Winnipeg. It offers residential, auto, business, life and disability insurance. The other three Westland acquisitions include:
Johnson Agencies: A brokerage that has served the insurance needs of Leduc, Alta., and surrounding areas since 1967. It provides residential, auto, recreation, commercial, farm, travel and life insurance
Hedderick Insurance Agencies: Located in Pincher Creek, Alta., Hedderick has been serving clients since 1949. They provide residential, commercial, recreation, farm and auto insurance
Nauroth & Associates: The family-owned brokerage has been serving the Prince George, B.C., area for more than 25 years. They provide the community with auto, residential, commercial, travel and life insurance
Discussing the topics of post-acquisition branding and staffing, Lyons believes the four acquired brokerages have strong brands within their communities. “While branding changes may occur over time, we don’t necessarily have a prescribed timeframe,” he said. “Regarding staff, we value the experience and professionalism of the existing teams and our goal is to always retain these teams.”
One of Westland’s paramount considerations in any acquisition is the cultural fit and alignment with Westland’s own core values, said Lyons. “Each of these [brokerages] is professionally run, with deep ties to their community, and an unwavering commitment to their clients and staff. Westland’s growth strategy is focused on continued leadership within our existing territories, as well as building a strong national presence. These acquisitions help to achieve both of these objectives.”
Lyons was asked if the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic affected the M&A process in any way. “Yes, COVID certainly paused our M&A program,” he replied. “Over the past six months, we refocused inwards to respond to the needs of our business, staff, communities and clients. We are encouraged by how Westland Insurance, the acquired brokers, and the industry at large have fared through COVID, and we are now actively re-engaging in M&A and our strategic growth plan.”