Agency Profile: Common Core

APGibson

South Bend, Indiana
Founded: 1933
Employees: 165

For the last quarter century, Gibson has achieved the elite status of Best Practices Agency by applying a surprisingly simple formula.

“If we treat our employees and our customers the way we want to be treated, good things happen,” says Ron Turpin, integrator & chief financial officer at Gibson. “Our people are engaged, and we continue to grow. If you look at the 85-year history of this firm, we’ve always been trying to look ahead as to what we need to do to stay relevant and impactful for our clients.”

In the past four years, Gibson has enjoyed an impressive growth run, nearly doubling its size to 165 employees. But despite its rapid growth, the agency has not lost sight of maintaining a consistent culture.

“Every hire, from a receptionist all the way to an executive, has to be interviewed by our CEO at the very end to see if they’re a fit,” Turpin says.

LIZ MISENAR, PRINCIPAL; MANAGER, PERSONAL INSURANCE & PRIVATE CLIENT GROUP

I’ve been at the agency a long time—25 years. Even though we’ve had different people at the head of our organization, the core of who we are has not changed. Our leadership is very in tune with making sure we are, at every level of the organization, reinforcing the cultural mandates: creating that great experience, doing the right thing, fostering collaboration, pursuing growth and owning our future. We talk about it all the time. Performance is measured on fulfilling those core values. So it’s just interesting that then, you start to attract like-minded people. I think from that aspect, we have found that secret sauce, and have been able to adapt and change as we’ve needed to.

RON TURPIN, PRINCIPAL; INTEGRATOR & CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER

We certainly get financial results—that’s part of what being a Best Practices Agency is. But we constantly reinvest in the business as well, which I don’t always see us doing as an industry. When you look at the multiples some of our competitor firms are getting when they sell or merge, part of why they’re getting that maximum value is because they’re not continuously reinvesting. We’re constantly reinvesting in people, processes and technology to keep growing as a firm.

We look at trends, sales planning, different teams, the investments we’re making in new markets, and then we do a five-year plan. That all plays into the Best Practices piece. It’s not just growth today—it’s growth for the future. How are we setting ourselves up to continue to have strong results five to 10 years from now?

MIGUEL SALAZAR, PRINCIPAL; EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

Even though what we do as an agency is work with clients to protect what matters most, underneath all that is having the right culture and finding the right people. Inevitably, we have to introduce new team members to established clients. We make sure clients understand we work as a team. Just because we change the day-to-day service person doesn’t mean the quality of how we service them is going to change.

We are proactive in the sense that we purposefully keep the pulse of our market and other markets nationally. As an agency, we like to bring something to the market that has either not been thought of or not acted upon—we take pride in that.

Photo by Joseph Hilliard