When it comes to growth, acquisition is the name of the game at North Carolina-based BB&T Insurance Services. Thanks to an aggressive string of purchases in recent years, the Raleigh-based subsidiary of the $91-billion-asset Winston-Salem-based BB&T Corp. has emerged as the eighth-largest insurance broker based in the United States. In recent weeks, BB&T Insurance Services continued to generate acquisition headlines with late-summer announcements to acquire Cooper, Love & Jackson, a Nashville-based agency specializing in commercial risk, employee benefits, and personal lines; and plans to expand title insurance activities via the purchase of Raleigh-based Surety Land Title. Thanks in large part to its aggressive acquisition posture, BB&T Insurance revenue from agencies has climbed steadily throughout the past decade. From 2001 to 2002 alone, revenues jumped from $172 million to $291 million.
In the following interview with contributing editor Karen Holliday, BB&T Insurance President Wade Reece--a 25-year company veteran outlines BB&T's growth-by-acquisition insurance strategy, while distinguishing the hallmarks of a successful integration program.
ABABJ: BB&T's experience in the insurance business dates back to 1922 with the acquisition of the Independent Agency based in Wilson, N.C. How did this long-term perspective shape BB&T's philosophy regarding organizational structure and integration of insurance activities?
Reece: One thing that sets us apart is that we often say that none of us can remember when BB&T wasn't in the insurance business. More than 75 acquisitions have been completed since the first one, and geographically, we operate 74 agencies in ten states from Maryland to Florida. Over the years we gained a wealth of experience through working on successful and unsuccessful initiatives. Throughout these endeavors, BB&T's corporate …