By Bill Henry, CEO & Chairman, Southwest Region
To say that we faced challenges in 2017 is an understatement. A hurricane along the Gulf Coast, continual soft rates in the Property & Casualty sector, and oil price issues that affected Houston, Midland and Fort Worth created strong headwinds for Marsh & McLennan Agency’s Southwest region, which is why I’m especially proud of our achievements this year.
We experienced an increase of more than seven percent annual revenue growth in 2017. This is no small feat, given that we lost more than $10 million in revenue over the past two years, as outside buyers acquired our customers – which were circumstances beyond our control. Not only were we able to dig out of the hole, but the growth that we achieved exceeds the total annual revenues of most of our major competitors in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
We also added several new people in the Southwest region this year, including 20 new producers. In fact, Marsh & McLennan Agency set a nationwide goal of hiring 40 producers in 2017 and MMA-Southwest helped achieve that goal through hiring half of them. Much of our growth has come from younger producers – many of whom were not even with us two years ago – and we are raising up numerous talented young leaders, as well. Equally important, we upheld our track record of zero layoffs. Not only did we avoid downsizing during the tough times, but we have maintained consistent growth and sold a lot of insurance, thanks to the hard work of Team MMA-Southwest!
In 2017 our region also merged with three brokerages in Texas, two in Lubbock and one in Abilene, and our region assisted in the largest merger for Marsh & McLennan Agency to date, J. Smith Lanier & Co. (JSL). JSL will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2018 and now serves as MMA’s Southeast regional hub. Based in West Point, Georgia, the region is led by JSL’s Chairman, Gaines Lanier, and Chief Executive Officer, Gary Ivey – two men I have known for close to 25 years – and undoubtedly will thrive with the full support and resources of MMA and Marsh!
Looking ahead, I believe that MMA-Southwest can see top-line growth of 9-10 percent and 20-25 percent bottom-line growth in 2018. We likely will make three or four more acquisitions in Texas, as well, and may help source a couple of insurance brokerage firms out of state for MMA. I am confident that our region not only will continue to avoid any layoffs in the New Year, but will add more PLUs – “People Like Us” – including a dozen new producers.
As part of Marsh, we have access to more resources and industry knowledge than any other insurance brokerage firm worldwide. In fact, we wrote three major accounts in 2017 totaling more than $1 million in revenue as a direct result of involvement by Marsh Global Analytics. Through our combined offerings, MHBT, MMA, and Marsh are able to provide the best in class resources for our customers. A growing production team and increasing revenues also create meaningful opportunities for career advancement and job security for our younger employees, and bode well for our company’s future as a whole. That’s especially good news for me because I love this industry and I love our people. I look forward to being a part of MMA-Southwest for many years to come!