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Insurance merger aids Hub International

By   /   Thursday, January 7th, 2010  /   Comments Off on Insurance merger aids Hub International

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The first major deal of 2010 will see two insurance heavyweights combine forces in the Tri-Counties.

On Jan. 6, the Central Coast arm of Hub International Insurance acquired Ogilvy-Hill Insurance of Santa Barbara in a transaction that will net Hub millions in additional revenue, an office in Oxnard and 40 more employees.

Full terms of the multi-year transaction have not been disclosed, but the company presidents told the Business Times that the deal will pool Ogilvy’s $7 million in annual revenue with Hub’s $10.1 million in the area.

“It’s a pretty momentous occasion and a great way to start the New Year,” said Hub Senior Executive Vice President Mark Shipp, formerly president and chief executive at Ogilvy-Hill. “We’re moving on the marketplace not only through organic growth but also through acquisition. This propels us as a dominant player in the region.”

Chicago-based industry giant Hub has 52 people in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Thousand Oaks, but Darren Caesar, senior executive vice president for the region, said the firm was eager to get its hands on Ogilvy-Hill’s 40 employees in Santa Barbara, Thousand Oaks and Oxnard.

“In the insurance business, the value is in the people,” Caesar said. “We focused on Ogilvy-Hill because those people have a great reputation. Everybody knows who they are, and we thought that recognition would be a tremendous asset going forward.”

Ogilvy-Hill has been operating in the Tri-Counties since 1888, and Caesar said the bones of Hub International date back to 1919.

“There’s a great deal of heritage involved in these two companies,” Caesar said. “So when we combine the two, it’s going to open up a lot of opportunities.”

The Southern California arm of Hub has jumped at quite a few tri-county opportunities recently, acquiring at least three other insurance operations in the past three years. In 2008, Hub snapped up two Santa Barbara-based insurance providers: JRN Benefits & Retirement, a company with six employees and $1.1 million in annual sales, and Nett & Champion Insurance Services, a three-person company with sales of $1.5 million per year.

Chris Hill, a member of the Ogilvy-Hill founding family, left the company several years ago and operates a separate company, Riviera Insurance Services.

“In the past few years, we’ve done very well in [the tri-county] area, and we’re on the lookout for more opportunities here,” Caesar said. “The acquisition of Ogilvy-Hill was a natural progression.”

Because Hub has all the basic services covered — property and casualty, reinsurance, life and health, employee benefits, investment and risk management — Caesar said the company will focus on acquiring firms with specialty programs and unique offerings for niche markets, like Ogilvy-Hill’s gaming and arbor segments.

Shipp said Ogilvy-Hill signed on to the deal because of company similarities, not differences.

“One of the reasons this deal was so easy was because we have parallel corporate philosophies,” Shipp said. “Everything seemed to fit our profile, and it became apparent to us that there were more reasons to get involved than not.”

Even though Ogilvy-Hill is now technically operating as Hub, it’s likely that the old signage will stick around well into 2011.

“The rebranding will be a very slow process so we can make sure customers don’t think Ogilvy disappeared and feel abandoned,” Caesar said. “They’re not going anywhere.”

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