Posted on 21 Jul 09
Today we’re highlighting Norman-Spencer Agency, a ProgramBusiness Storefront since 2004. Norman-Spencer offers comprehensive industry-specific programs and general wholesale insurance services to retail agencies across the country. With roots going back to the early 1900s, Norman-Spencer began developing specific-industry programs 30 years ago. Today, it has 150 employees and, in addition to its headquarters in Ohio, Norman-Spencer has facilities in Michigan, Florida, and throughout California. Norman-Spencer writes in excess of $150 million in annual premium, is licensed with over 50 excellent rated carriers, services the customer insurance needs of more than 1,000 retail agents, and has several insurance programs endorsed by national trade associations.
We spoke with Brian Norman, Vice President of Norman-Spencer, about the company, its culture, programs, and what resonates with their clients. “We truly believe in establishing long-lasting relationships,” says Brian, “…and this means with our carriers, agents, and end partners so that we work together for each of our mutual benefit.”
Brian says the company mantra by which the staff works is: “SIMPLE. SMART. GREAT. BFI.” [that’s “both feet in”] “We try to do the simple things, we work smart, strive for greatness, and when we do something, we do it all the way, we don’t just dip our toe in the water. We are guided by these four tenets in everything we do, whether it’s working on an account or developing a program.”
Norman-Spencer is known for several of its programs, including Pumpro, which provides coverage for concrete pumping operations, and has the strongest performance for the agency during any market cycle. “We have worked closely with the industry for 20 years to deliver coverage that addresses the insureds’ needs while consistently delivering underwriting profit.”
Other programs include Ready Mix for companies that manufacture and/or transport ready mix concrete to construction jobsites around the country; Fire Sprinklers Contractors, which was launched this past May; Recreational Marine; Restoration Contractors; and many others. See Industry-Specific Programs for an overview of each of the programs.
Brian explains that it is industry knowledge that differentiates Norman-Spencer from its competitors. “We get actively involved. With some programs, we develop a sponsorship relationship with the leading national trade association representing that particular industry. It’s as though we’re a part of those sectors, not the insurance industry. We serve as a trusted advisor. For example, pumping companies call us about pumping questions, not just insurance. To me, this indicates that we are doing things right.”
Serving as a source of knowledge is a huge plus for Norman-Spencer especially in a market where price is the focus. “Our expertise puts us a step ahead,” says Brian. “People in the various industries know they can reach out to us, that we are a part of their business.”
Additionally, retail agents reach out to Norman-Spencer for education in the specific niches it serves. “We can educate the agents on a specific industry and how to ‘talk’ to their clients, to speak their language. These are not main-street, vanilla-type programs, so it’s important to know what coverage to offer, what exclusions exist. We provide that level of expertise to our distribution system,” says Brian.
Norman-Spencer also provides its retail agents with referrals and helps in client calls, as part of its commitment to being proactive in helping its network write new business.
An active Storefront for the past five years, Brian is pleased with the results garnered from ProgramBusiness. “We get an excellent response from ProgramBusiness. Our number-one driver of requests comes from the e-mail blasts we do via ProgramBusiness. When an email goes out, it fills up our email account, lights up our phones. It’s a great way to keep your name out there, and to keep in touch with your client base. When asked about our experience with ProgramBusiness, we’re quick to refer carriers and other MGAs to the platform.”
Norman-Spencer also conducts a great deal of other electronic and print advertising directly to the industry, including in trade publications. “Our goal is to promote the brand while seeking out agents that are actively writing the business. We’ll ask prospects who their agents are, so we can contact them, to let them know about our programs. When you are not selling directly to the prospects and asking for their agency contact information, they are more open to providing this.”
Norman-Spencer has a separate company, Topic Design Group, to develop and create all of its advertising and marketing material, making an investment in branding its company and all its products, and continues to invest significantly in advertising even during this economic downturn. “We have not scaled back our marketing,” says Brian. “This is the time you need to spend more. If people have fewer dollars to spend, then you want them to spend those dollars with you.”
Ultimately, Brian is a firm believer that the best marketing you can do is to deliver when you have the opportunity and to continue to make the right decisions for your clients. “It goes back to relationship-building, which will always stand the test of time. Some people may be in survival mode, but this is when people need you…and having those relationships and building on them is what makes the difference.”
To find out more about Norman-Spencer, please visit the company Storefront, or go to: www.norman-spencer.com. You can contact Brian at 937.432.3530, or via email at BrianNorman@norman-spencer.com.