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

Letter from the President – October 2018

As part of our ongoing commitment to always be learning and getting better, we organized a training for our leadership and management team on Emotional Intelligence and we recently attended this training together. In this month’s newsletter, I am sharing the follow-up note I sent to my team in hopes you get some takeaways from it. I truly believe getting better in “leadership and management skills” is a differentiator for us as we grow into the future. I discuss my thoughts and expectations around leading within our Management Creed, Standards and Values, and by doing so will have a positive impact on the overall well being of our people, our clients and the longterm relevance of our company.

The FollowUp Note:

I want to thank you all for taking the time out of your day to attend and participate in Wednesday’s EI session. We all wear multiple hats many have clients to service and teams to lead, and finding this time as leaders is very important to me, our agency and most importantly to your own personal development – incredible nuggets of knowledge we all can bring into our own lives – thus a multiple return on your time invested.

Please take a few minutes to read my thoughts when you have time. I hope they give you context around this training – which was only a few hours to wet the surface of what we are making available in the future for all of you.

I say important to me because, as CEO, I need to do a better job communicating and managing the promise in our Management Creed and I need your help. In the Management Creed, I declare how a person who joins our firm and reports into their manager will be treated – what is expected of them and what they can expect from us. I sign this and I recruit to it – and I hear others recruiting to it. We are making promises to prospective team members and current team members – and we owe it to them to deliver. If we don’t deliver on this promise we are hypocrites and being disingenuous. If we do deliver we have something very special here.

To make sure we deliver, I am advising Carol to continue to offer up resources for all of our people – and mandatory for any team member who has granted authority as a people manager/leader.  Anyone who has someone report to them needs to be engaged in leadership development.

The beauty of each of our leaders becoming better at leadership – a scarce and needed skill set in our society, let alone businesses where we spend a majority of our waking time – is if we all agree to lead and manage by our Management Creed we prevent becoming a “corporate rule maker” and having to micro manage people to follow the rules and be punished if they don’t. The reason why corporations become too “corporate” is they don’t have leaders who lead with principles – meaning being aware of and relentless in using values and standards as the compass and the center of their leadership actions. In addition, they see their position as “their power” versus “empowerment  of others” – they don’t get how “powerful” servant leadership truly is. So when people with authority aren’t principlecentered  and aren’t “servant leaders”, they suppress the talent, styles, skills and energy of their team. The way to “control the behavior” of suppressed people is to set rules and enforce them – thus the non-servant leader becomes a “enforcer” of the “corporate rules.” This is how business becomes “too corporate” and why span of Management is tightened – because the manager has to micro manage the rule breakers and even the rule followers get “watched closely” just in case. Not only does this affect morale, it is inefficient and businesses can’t gain operating leverage with small spans of management. Thus, they end up having to hire more layers of management versus client facing people and now, not only is morale bad, profits suffer due to bloating of overhead – clients suffer and employee engagement is nil at best.

The reason why I say if we deliver on our Management Creed promise we have something special is – if you as leaders – who are granted authority as part of your role and no better than anyone else – manage as servant leaders, sharpen your EI skills (and we all need to), and commit to using the tools and resources we provide, our team members will be empowered to use their skills and reach their potential. They won’t feel suppressed, they can better manage themselves, and we are unleashing the amazing energy and potential they have – with less “managing” and less emphasis on “rules”. This doesn’t mean process and process improvement isn’t vital – it is. In fact, empowered people with continuous process improvement is what sets them free to use their skills to engage people and sell and service internal and external clients.

I need your help and I need your commitment to understand this, learn it, practice it and get great at leadership. As was validated in yesterday’s session, great teams operate with an agreement. Our agreement is to lead under our Management Creed, Standards and Values. We don’t have to be best friends, we have to respect our agreement, each other and get better at being accountable to each other.

It isn’t easy, and at times can be grueling, yet the reward puts us in a very unique and special place. It gives us the ability to grow profitably and do so where people want to be and see the opportunity to thrive in their careers and their lives.

If you would like a copy of our Management Creed, please contact Carol Pandiscia at cpandiscia@smithbrothersusa.com or 860-830-3696. If you would like to discuss our Management Creed, Standards or Values in more depth, please feel free to reach out.

Be Sure.

Joe

Letter from the President – September 2018

In August, our Smith Brothers Insurance team partnered with Hands on Hartford to “ready” the Breakthrough Magnet School in the North End of Hartford for the start of the school year.

Katherine Leonard, the principal of the school, welcomed us and shared the school’s values and standards with us. Their focus is on learning, “soft skills” and the well being of their students – principles any business can relate to. We had the opportunity to paint, rake, landscape, weed, create bulletin boards, organize the library and wash equipment.

This opportunity aligned so well with our big purpose to “Help Others” and there is nothing better, especially as a CEO, than our Smith Brothers team members working together to make a difference – a “true example” of how we help others in what we do.

As the day ended, the Hands On Hartford project manager let us know how the kids in Hartford “feel bad” about the way people outside of Hartford speak about “how bad Hartford is”- as they directly relate this to themselves. I personally never looked at the negative talk about Hartford effecting kids who go to school or live in Hartford. By spending the time to help, the project manager said it gives the kids pride that others cared. Truly a nice thing to hear – our work not only helped the school get ready, it also has an effect on how the kids feel about themselves and their pride.

We at Smith Brothers Insurance are truly grateful to all our stakeholders for allowing us to make our community a little better every day.

Be Sure.
Joe

Smith Brothers Insurance Acquires G.M. Abodeely Insurance Agency – May 2018

May 1, 2018. G.M. Abodeely Insurance Agency has merged its business with Smith Brothers Insurance of Glastonbury, CT. This combination allows the Abodeely Agency to maintain its presence as an independent local agent and leverage the resources of Smith Brothers, one of the nation’s Top 100 Independent brokers. 

Bill Abodeely and Elaine Saliba, principals of Abodeely Agency, and Shelley Zicolella, Director of Operations, together with the account management team, will operate out of its current Massachusetts locations in Milford, Westborough, Webster, West Springfield and Fitchburg under the name G.M. Abodeely Insurance Agency, an affiliate of Smith Brothers Insurance. Paul Cellucci, as Massachusetts Regional Director, will work with the Abodeely team to grow through organic sales and future M&A activity in Massachusetts.

“G.M. Abodeely brings us presence in the Central Massachusetts marketplace and allows Bill, Elaine and their team to take advantage of our Enterprise Risk Management approach and value-added resources to expand our combined presence in the Massachusetts marketplace. Smith Brothers and G.M. Abodeely are community-based businesses founded by our respective family’s and, as stewards, coming together will benefit our clients, our team members and our communities,” states Joe B. Smith, President & CEO of Smith Brothers Insurance.

Bill Abodeely states, “Smith Brothers and the Smith family hold the same core values and culture our family has prided ourselves on throughout the years. This partnership perpetuates a longstanding agency while providing the same exceptional service to our clients. This is an exciting time for all of us given the commitment to our current client base and continued presence and growth in the region.”

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.

Founded in Hartford, Connecticut in 1971 by brothers, Bob and Brian Smith, Smith Brothers Insurance has expanded to more than 180 professionals that help protect clients from risk and uncertainty.

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 and New Jersey.

ABOUT G.M. ABODEELY INSURANCE AGENCY, INC.

Abodeely was founded in 1940 by Sally and George Abodeely, Sr. who grew the agency to become one of the largest privately-owned agencies in central New England. The family business was passed down to siblings George Abodeely, Jr., Elaine Saliba and Bill Abodeely who have worked tirelessly over the years providing superior customer service and quality insurance solutions for their customers.