By Jan Wilson, In Business Magazine
The Murphy Insurance Group is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Now, perhaps it has another reason to celebrate: On July 1, the company became The Murphy Insurance Group, a division of HUB International.
HUB is a global insurance brokerage, and its Midwest division, based in Chicago, purchased all of Murphy’s assets.
The news may have surprised many in the area, but CEO August Felker says he’d been working on the deal for about six months. “I really hadn’t been looking around,” he says. Then, he had an opportunity to meet some HUB folks in Chicago and was highly impressed.
As things progressed, Felker grew more excited. If his company were to partner with anyone, it would have to be the perfect scenario. “I set a high bar,” he says.
With the transaction complete, very little will actually change at the local office. The Murphy team will remain in place, including Felker, whose oversight now expands to a Sheboygan office as well as locations in Waunakee and metro Milwaukee (Waukesha). He will now report to Neil Hughes, president of the Chicago-area region.
More importantly, he notes, clients will benefit from HUB’s expanded resources.
“The big thing is gaining access to the resources that HUB has, like support for employee benefits and health care reform. That’s huge. And access to more insurance companies and risk management. It’s a win-win, because it’s good for both clients and staff.”
Prior to the acquisition, Murphy Insurance had over 30 individual owners who, as outside investors, were not actually involved in the agency. “This move helps us because we’re swapping outside investors for one strategic partner.” It’s easier to leverage one partner versus a multitude of individual investors, he explains, “and now, we have the backing of a really big company.”
HUB provides property and casualty, life and health, employee benefits, investment, and risk management products and services. It operates with regional offices, known as HUBs, which also attracted Felker.
“HUB is a very decentralized model, so they give us resources but let us stay relatively independent,” he says. The company will also be looking to bring other agencies under its fold.
HUB already has at least one local tie. Scott Wick, chief sales officer for HUB Midwest, happens to be a UW–Madison alumnus and an active member of the National W Club’s board of directors.
However, the merger was really about other synergies. Part of this move was made in response to health care reform, Felker admits. “Our role is helping businesses understand health care changes and manage their employee benefits costs, which are rising like crazy.”
Many companies are struggling with all the changes, and as a company, Murphy had invested a lot of money into providing resources for them. “But when I got to know HUB, I was amazed at what they have when it comes to employee benefits, and it helps us quickly close the gap in terms of what our clients need.”
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