A Letter From the President- December 2019

On this last month of the year 2019, I want to start by thanking all of those who have a stake in Smith Brothers – our team, our clients, our community, our trading partners, and our financial partners. Smith Brothers works extremely hard to be a company that performs its purpose of Help Others in a way that optimizes all of our stakeholders – not one at the expense of another. This often makes work a lot “harder” and takes extra effort and creative thought that constantly seeks those “third” solutions to get to win/win. Our team members are the key to making this all happen consistently and as we grow not to lose the special culture we all have created. They work hard to see ahead, align, stay client focused, and investing in themselves to grow personally as well as professionally. An amazing thing to watch. We will end 2019 with another solid year financially ranking in the Top Quartile of our industry. Our size makes us a top 100 Broker in the US and growing double digits annually (for the last 20 plus years). We have chosen to take a path that can show for profit businesses can do good, be good people, be kind to others, help others, care for others – and yes – be top performers in their industry – financially and operationally – allowing for optimizing all stakeholders and re-investing in ourselves for sustainability. Businesses do not have to sacrifice goodness for value creation. Caring and being kind to others is a powerful force. Not only are you choosing to conduct yourself with the contribution of adding value to someone else’s life, you are feeding the roots of happiness within us individually. In a society where individual achievement and focus on individual “feel good “ is so prevalent, research shows, caring and kindness matter more to “feel good”. Research by Dr Richard Weissbourd, a Harvard professor, indicates people focused on caring for others and having a balanced understanding of achievement and individual happiness tend to be healthier, happier, and more successful than those focused more on achievement and individual happiness. I am a believer that taking care of yourself is critical in making sure you can take care of others. You cannot serve from an empty vessel. What is note worthy is taking care of oneself alone won’t do it. It isn’t always easy as the world can be a nasty place. I saw a quote the other day – “be kind to the unkind”. Not necessarily easy, yet probably can change the world if we all started doing it. ‘Tis the season to be kind to others – yet make it a point to carry it through 2020 and make it truly a “Happy New Year”. Be Sure Joe

BroadStreet Partner Smith Brothers Featured at the Yale School of Management: Business Succession

Our partner in Connecticut, Smith Brothers, was recently featured as the subject of a case study at the Yale School of Management. Joe Smith, CEO of Smith Brothers in Glastonbury, Connecticut has built a reputation as a forward-thinking entrepreneur, and Yale University approached him to provide his perspective on strategies for business succession and M&A. The case tells the story of Smith Brothers prior to partnering with BroadStreet. They were (and continue to be) a growing, profitable, Top-100 Agency, actively making tuck-in acquisitions in the Northeast. The case narrative builds up to a strategic decision for Smith Brothers: How would the management team handle succession in the context of the rapid consolidation underway in the insurance brokerage industry? The leaders at Smith Brothers were considering their options: Stay the course, remain independent, grow organically and acquire opportunistically…but defer action on ownership succession; Sell all or part of the business, create liquidity and accelerate growth…but risk cultural and operational disruption with a new partner; Arrange for internal ownership and maintain Smith Brothers’ unique culture…but limit investment in growth initiatives. We know that the case study has a happy ending. Since partnering with BroadStreet in 2014, Joe Smith and his team at Smith Brothers have continued to prosper: they’ve made multiple tuck-in acquisitions, grown organically, added new owners and continue to consistently deliver on their “Be Sure” promise to their colleagues and clients. Smith Brothers was considering three mutually exclusive options. What they found with BroadStreet, is that agency owners don’t give up culture in exchange for partnership; it doesn’t have to be “either / or”. Our co-ownership approach succeeds in delivering the best attributes of each option and eliminates the negative consequences for agency owners facing the same alternatives that Smith Brothers considered: our partners maintain the advantages of staying the course, accelerating growth with a partner and perpetuating ownership internally. It’s a big promise, but one that we’ve made, and kept for each of our 22 Core partners. We’ve been helping agency owners navigate succession and growth for over 15 years. I encourage you to contact me to begin a conversation about becoming a BroadStreet partner.

A Letter from the President

During the month of June, Smith Brothers Insurance piloted an Emerging Advisor Intern Program with two college students – Ronan Jacoby (rising Junior at Wesleyan University) and Grace Smith (rising Sophomore at Babson College). Ronan and Grace excel in the classroom, are athletes who understand the importance of team, collaboration, and communication – and they spend time giving back to the community. Our pilot program was intended to provide young people exposure to our industry and our agency through a short and intense curriculum of learning, doing, and shadowing. With help from several of our of carrier partners, clients, and Smith Brothers team members, Grace and Ronan learned about risk, how the insurance industry works, sales, service and operations, and the importance of company culture. They visited with our carriers, attended client meetings, researched client prospects, participated in team meetings, and attended “soft skills” training (communication styles, conflict resolution, personal branding). They contributed to an external marketing team, demonstrating their skills and adding to our culture with their energy and work ethic. In their summary presentation about their experience, they shared the following key takeaways:
  • Insurance is NOT boring and this industry offers lots of opportunities
  • The importance of building strong relationships (with yourself and others)
  • The impact a strong culture has on a company and it’s people
  • Big Data is key
  • Soft Skill Development (Grit, Knowing your Communication Style and those you work with, Emotional Intelligence)
In the presentation they made about their experience, the following stood out to me – “One of our favorite parts of the experience was the soft skill development we received. We went through a number of different learning opportunities – Communication Styles, Conflict Resolution (win/win), Personal Branding, Interview Preparation, Mock Interviewing, as well as other opportunities that helped set us apart from our peers in internships where there is not a reinvestment in them. The reason we thought the soft skill development was so important is because we feel it is something many people assume individuals have, yet, if you never work on them, there is a good chance the full potential of an individual is not met.” We look forward to having Ronan and Grace back next summer for our Emerging Advisor II program and welcome in another group for the Emerging Advisor I program. Be Sure. Joe
Start saving money on your commercial insurance now. Call 860-652-3235. For more information on business liability insurance, visit: https://smithbrothersusa.com/commercial-insurance/ Smith Brothers provides Auto/Car Insurance, Homeowners Insurance, and Business/Commercial Insurance for all of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and internationally. Smith Brothers Insurance LLC 68 National Drive Glastonbury, CT 06033 860.652.3235
Read More

Letter from the President – April 2019

I recently attended the Travelers Leadership Council and wanted to share some work the Travelers Institute is doing on distracted driving. This public policy and thought leadership division of the Travelers created a symposium series, Every Second Matters, aimed at raising awareness about distracted driving risks through events on college campuses across the United States and Canada.

According to the Travelers Institute, “Each day nine people are killed by distracted driving, leaving their stories unfinished.”

This month I am attaching items from the Travelers Institute website:

1. The first is an article titled Everyone Can Play a Role in Preventing Distracted Driving. This quick and important read gets you thinking about your own distracted driving habits, the rise in accidents, and the increase in auto insurance rates. According to this article, “studies have shown most people believe distracted driving is not their problem; it’s the other person’s problem.”

Everyone Can Play a Role in Preventing Distracted Driving

2. Two links to the Unfinished Stories or Phil LaVallee and Shreya Dixit – both were killed by distracted drivers and never got to finish their stories.
The Route: Phil’s Unfinished StoryThe Stage: Shreya’s Unfinished Story

Please share with your kids – your family – your employees – your neighbors and your network – let’s make the stigma of distracted driving not acceptable in our society so we can stop Unfinished Stories caused by distracted driving.

Be Sure.

Joe

Letter from the President – February 2019

I’m proud to let you know that last month, Smith Brothers was recognized
by Connecticut Associated Builders and Contractors (CT ABC), as it’s 2019 Associate Member Of The Year. This recognition is awarded annually to companies that enhance the association through participation and involvement.

This award results from our significant involvement in the construction
industry in CT over the last several decades. With our industry engagement we have gained incredible experience and expertise in Risk Management, Surety, and insurance needs of contractors. Many of our great people participate and serve to help deliver on ABC’s mission. We do this through Board and Committee memberships, as well as participation in ABC’s Emerging Leaders program. We have volunteered our time for education sessions, event sponsorships, and programs with carriers and Surety’s tailored to Contractors.

Smith Brothers is highly supportive of the construction industry. This
industry is made up largely of entrepreneurs who take risk every day to
advance their companies and drive economic growth. Many are family owned or closely held private organizations that create, innovate, and give back to their communities. For this, we are very proud of our involvement and appreciative to be recognized for our contributions.

If you would like to learn more about how Smith Brothers Construction
Practice can be of value of our company, please contact Tom Formica at
tformica@smithbrothersusa.com or 860-430-3259.

Be Sure!

Joe

Letter to the President – January 2019

This month we held our annual “state of the company “ where a majority of our team members gather and we review results from the prior year and look forward to the new year. In addition to the traditional business tactics and metrics to meet strategic goals, we also focused on two areas we felt were truly important for our team members.

We discussed Organic Growth within an entity and why it is healthy to organically grow. Organic growth in its most raw definition is any growth excluding M&A revenue. Under the “skin” of this generic definition we try to isolate where we have control versus where we don’t, like economy or inflation, and instead, look at “productivity growth”. This can be defined as a larger incremental revenue per unit for a prior time period than the expense per unit. This allows us to look at adding more new business then we lose, keeping overhead in check, and being focused on process improvement/efficiency gains. If, collectively as an organization we can “grow” consistently, we will remain healthy and vibrant for all stakeholders. Team members can have more room for their compensation and flexibility needs/desires, our clients get more resources and higher skilled people to engage in their businesses and families, and our community giving can continue to be vibrant.

In our annual message, we also linked our collective growth as a company to our team members individual personal growth. If our team members commit themselves to personal growth, we as a company will benefit for sure. Yet, when one personally grows, they also become more fulfilled. People like to be productive as it keeps them happy and engaged and interested in life. In the book Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, he describes the state of “flow” as “an optimal state of intrinsic motivation where a person is fully immersed in what they are doing.” One of the comments of “flow” is the “challenge skill balance” – essentially humans like to develop their skills and be challenged to utilize those skills. It brings fulfillment.

With the immersion of Artificial Intelligence (AI), smart machines and learning machines, there are endless headlines, newscasts and report on the loss of mass amounts of jobs around the world. Our message was, as in any major shift in the economic state, labor and technology integration or society, there is risk. There is also opportunity to grow and become more relevant. So we are using the phrase TLC – Thinker, Leader and Collaborator. The competencies of – Be A Thinker, Be A Leader and Be A Collaborator – are going to be more important skills and behaviors for humans in the decades to come. It also doesn’t hurt that the acronym TLC, which most of us know as tender loving care, implies kindness and love to be given. We will continue to invest in Thinking, Leading and Collaborating skill development opportunities in 2019 and will continue to support being “others focused“ knowing that the world gives back to those who give.

Be Sure. 
Joe

Smith Brothers Insurance Helps Local Children

Smith Brothers Insurance with offices in Windsor-locks and Somers, sponsored 25 children in need raising $5,000 for the 2018 Holiday Bear Project through  the Connecticut Education Foundation. For 12 straight years, Smith Brorhers team members have donated money and time for this annual gift-giving program for needy public school children in Connecticut Team members individually sponsored a child, donated money, and coordinated company fundraising activities. Hundreds of gifts were purchased and wrapped for students who range in age from 5 to 17. More than 10,000 Connecticut public school students have benefited from the the Holiday Bear Project since it began in 1998. Pictured is the Smith Brothers team: front row, left to right Aliaha Rivera Joann Thomas, Christine Lesniak, Patty Manke, Cassie Wetherbee, and Ann Riley: back row, left to right: Yannick Nicome, Tony Starkowski, Kristen Philips, Kim Connolly, Anthony Treviso, and Chris Komanetsky.

The Partners Insurance Agency merges with Smith Brothers Insurance

Glastonbury, CT – Effective January 1, 2019, Smith Brothers Insurance and The Partners Insurance Agency, an independent insurance agency located in Vestal, Owego, and Waverly, New York have merged together. This merger expands Smith Brothers Insurance footprint into upstate New York where The Partners will maintain local presence while leveraging the resources of Smith Brothers Insurance, one of the nation’s Top 100 independent brokers.

Owners of the New York offices, Don Patterson, Bill Soprano, Phil Wiles, John Carlin, Michael Constantine, and Chris Hutchings will stay fully engaged in client service and business development. Michael Constantine will run the New York region, continuing to serve clients with the same team of insurance professionals who have also become employees of Smith Brothers Insurance.

“The Partners brings us presence in New York and allows personal and commercial clients of The Partners to gain access to additional carriers, coverage and risk management  services. Those who own or operate a business will benefit from our additional value-added services such as; human resources, employee well being, safety, compliance and financial services,” states Joe B. Smith, President & CEO of Smith Brothers Insurance. “Both agencies have strong ties to serve our clients and give back to the communities where we live and work.”

“As we have gotten to know Joe and members of the Smith Brothers team, it is clear we share the same values,” says Michael Constantine. “Smith Brothers commitment to exceptional client service, continued growth and being a great place to work is so exciting to our team and aligns with our commitment to be the best we can be for our clients, partners and the community.”

ABOUT SMITH BROTHERS INSURANCE, LLC

Smith Brothers Insurance is an independently operated,  Top 100 Broker in the U.S. We help organizations and individuals manage risk, protect assets and grow.

Smith Brothers is licensed in every state in the U.S. and protects risk all over the world. Headquartered in Glastonbury, Connecticut, our offices are throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

Founded in Hartford, Connecticut in 1971 by brothers, Bob and Brian Smith, Smith Brothers Insurance has expanded to more than 200 professionals that help protect clients from risk and uncertainty.

Follow Smith Brothers Insurance on LinkedIn and like our Facebook page.

Letter to the President – December 2018

As we wind down 2018, I’d like to use this opportunity to share some of the ups and downs of the past year at Smith Brothers. I am sharing 5 memories of reflection and a 6th as appreciation for ‘The Stag’ and ‘The Umbrella’ we call our friends and neighbors.

  • To start our year we lost one of our dearest friends and team member Penny Shukes. She was a loyal 30-year employee of Smith Brothers and a “sister” to all of us here. Although she is missed every day, Penny’s Room, our dedicated conference room in her memory lights us all up every time we enter it. With Love and Gratitude we had her as part of our family for 30 years.
  • We grew for the 23rd year in a row. Our revenue was up 15% and we added 28 new employees. With all the changes in our world – successions and retirements – the Great Recession – and the continuous accelerating pace that technology/connectivity  and data brings in efficiencies and threats all in one – we find a way to keep growing – big thanks to all of our team members and clients – who make it happen – were not perfect but were doing something right!
  • We began the total rehab of our Glastonbury office external and internal – committing to another decade at this location in this wonderful town of Glastonbury. We’re committed to a fresh environment set up to grow us into the future.
  • We grew in Massachusetts this year with a P&C foothold in Central, MA. This addition, along with our well established Western, MA Employee Benefits practice, helps us diversify our regional scope of services and gives us a foundation to grow in a different economic story in New England.
  • We signed a letter of intent to merge a firm into us in Central New York – bring us yet into another territory to leverage our culture and systems and brand for continued expanded geographic reach.
  • We held several educational sessions for our clients – to help them grow, stay safer and reduce chances of harm to their families and businesses. We worked together as a group of passionate “helpers” – to raise money – give of our time – and have fun helping kids – giving back to our community – carrying on our big purpose to Help Others.

Our industry, specifically The Hartford and The Travelers, gave significant funds to the City of Hartford – the city and its citizens are in need of a rejuvenation and these funds will help invest long-term in Hartford. We sometimes forget two very large and successful leaders in our P&C industry are right here in Hartford. They have choices on where to call their “home office” and rather than flee in the wake of state and city distress – they chose to invest and help – for this we feel proud to be leading agents for both of these companies. Their leaders lead great companies– lead as good corporate citizens and – as important – are good people. What we do every day with them as partners to help our clients, also helps our community when these companies reinvest locally. For them we are grateful.

Please have a wonderful and fun Holiday season – cherish those you can call friends and your family. With appreciation.

Be Sure.

Joe

Letter from the President – November 2018

The holiday season is a wonderful time to give thanks for all we have to be thankful for, including the Red Sox winning the World Series (sorry Yankee fans).

I thought sharing this article about Alex Cora, the Red Sox first year manager who won a World Series this year, was a wonderful reminder of how giving and being helpful to others should be such an important part of our daily lives.

At a time of signing his contract to become the returning Red Sox manager – by all means – a rightful time to be inwardly looking and self-centered to get the best deal he could – Alex Cora looked to help others in his native Island of Puerto Rico. Very touching and worth the read.

It is almost daily we see suffering on the news and in our communities, from the horrific events of shootings across our country and the out of control wild fires in CA, we all should send our thoughts and energy to these victims.

We are grateful for what we do have, and, it’s from this place of gratitude, where we can help others in times of need. I hope you enjoy the next several weeks enjoying family and friends and find a way to help someone else out who may need something within your ability to do so.

https://www.inc.com/chris-matyszczyk/the-1-stunning-thing-boston-red-sox- manager-alex-cora-asked-for-in-contract-negotiations.html

Be Sure.
Joe