Congratulations to Van Gilder Insurance
2010 Marketing Agency of the Year
Van Gilder Insurance Corporation, one of the largest independent insurance agencies in the country, has been named Rough Notes magazine's Marketing Agency of the Year for 2010. Featured in the April 2010 issue of Rough Notes, the Denver-based agency was founded in 1905 and has grown to reach over $40 million in revenue. It employs more than 200 people in its Denver headquarters and a branch office in Dallas.
When the agency entered its second century in 2006, the fourth generation took over the helm and recognized a need for a "Van Gilder Renaissance" to prepare the agency for another century of success. Michael Van Gilder took over the CEO position from his father, Dell Van Gilder, in May of that year.
"We have set out to transform that agency to one with a number of specialty orientations," Michael says. "My father guided us through what I call our entrepreneurial run, which included both organic growth and a number of mergers." Dell joined the agency in 1963 when sales volume was $500,000. By the turn of the century it had reached $250 million.
Michael continues by pointing out that many agencies "either sell or bring in new management" at the end of the run. "We chose the latter course and are in the process of positioning ourselves for the next big run."
The changeover to a specialty orientation first involved identifying those areas in which the agency already had sufficient market clout. Three criteria needed to be met. The specialty had to: be a driver in the economy; produce revenues in excess of $1.5 million; and have a full team in place at the agency, from sales to account management.
The agency identified eight specialties that met those criteria: six commercial P-C classes—construction; aviation; executive liability; professional liability; oil and gas; and private equity—as well as employee benefits and retirement plans, and personal insurance and small businesses.
Van Gilder has already reached its initial goal of becoming one of the top three risk consultancies in the marketplace in every one of its specialty areas. "But our ultimate goal is to become the dominant player," Michael says, "which is even better than number one. It means that potential clients in that niche come to us because we have become recognized as the risk management experts in that specialty. And we've already achieved that status in a couple of business units."
While this transition continues to move forward, the agency adheres to the core values delineated in 1905: ethics, family, balance, passion and fun. "We highlight one of these five words at our monthly meeting," Michael points out. "We never want our people to forget the vision behind our efforts."
We congratulate Van Gilder on being chosen Marketing Agency of the Year by its peers, the other outstanding Rough Notes cover agencies. The firm's acceptance of change while adhering to important core values has created a dynamic firm that is certain to enjoy a successful second century.
Rough Notes magazine will present the award to Van Gilder executives next month at a dinner in their honor, attended by members of the magazine's editorial advisory board and The Rough Notes Company executives.