When Dutch McNeal and Sam Sports graduated from college in 2009, they were greeted by a recession and a decimated job market. When they discovered a local independent insurance agency with aging owners looking to sell, they took a “bucket shot,” as McNeal calls it, and have positioned it into a rapidly growing firm.
When Dutch McNeal and Sam Sports graduated from college in 2009, they were greeted by a recession and a decimated job market. When they discovered a local independent insurance agency with aging owners looking to sell, they took a “bucket shot,” as McNeal calls it, and have positioned it into a rapidly growing firm. Ten years later, with Will Wilson Jr. joining as a partner in 2018, business is booming. McNeal, Sports & Wilson Risk Advisers was named a Big “I” Best Practices Agency in 2019. With an average agency ownership age of 31 years, they’re just getting started.
In 2018, the agency saw 21% growth, which was topped by 2019’s 34% growth. For 2020, the goal is 31% growth, which they anticipate to achieve by mid-fall.
Will Wilson Jr., Partner, Risk Adviser
We are trying to transform many negative perceptions that our industry has by being transparent with our clients and prospects. We disclose information about our business and the insurance “process” that our competitors are not willing to give up. All of our cards are on the table. We have seen a positive response, as clients realize we are not trying to hide anything.
Like most new producers did when starting out in this business, we too have taken our fair share of defeats. The good thing is that we have done it at a young age, and we have learned a lot of hard lessons. Still learning more every day, but using those lessons learned has been one of the key reasons to our rapid success the past few years. New generations of leadership are taking over companies; now you don’t have to have the “30 or 40 years of experience” veteran to be the expert like so many previously thought. You know, I think the former mentality of buyers has been that in order for the agent to be good they were looking for old, male, pale and stale as they must know all. But in recent years, with the transition of leadership, buyers have become extremely receptive to youth, especially when you can provide value.
Sam Sports, Partner, Risk Adviser
We try to stay pretty nimble, which was helpful when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. We actually saw an increase of flow in new business. By being present during all of this, we’ve gotten several calls from dormant prospects looking for answers. The seeds for those relationships were planted in years past.
We’re excited about the future—what’s the next generation of ownership look like? Right now, the average age of agency ownership is north of 55. We look at this as an enormous opportunity. I don’t think there has been a better time to be young and in a position of growth as an agency principal. The best is yet to come.
Dutch McNeal, Managing Partner, Risk Adviser
We strive to operate in a fiduciary capacity for our clients. We believe that if we take care of their interests first, the rest will take care of itself. We want our clients look to at us as a partner and not just a vendor on the expense report.
The great thing about insurance is it’s not like a hamburger stand where you have to be on the right corner to sell hamburgers. Our reach is unlimited, our goal is to continue to leverage technologies and people to expand our local footprint outside of our little town.
AnneMarie McPherson is IA news editor.