I am privileged to attend the 20th anniversary celebration of Strategic Insurance Agents Alliance (SIAA) tonight in Boston.  I am with over 400 insurance industry professionals including the senior leadership of the country’s largest and best known insurance companies as we fete the organization that reinvented insurance distribution.

Twenty years ago I was a partner in a medium-sized insurance agency of about $10 million in premium volume. That year we had three insurance carriers threatening to leave our agency because of production requirements and that kept me up a lot of nights! We were used to receiving very little profit sharing each year because of the typically poor weather we have in our part of the country.  There were virtually no new independent insurance agencies being created in the United States and every agency owner I knew was concerned about where new blood was going to come from.

Then, the practical genius of a small town insurance agent, Jim Masiello, began to march across the country. SIAA became a vehicle for not only erasing the production problems of agents like me, but for equalizing the relationship between carriers and agents.  Suddenly, agents got paid more, a lot more, for the business they created.

The bonus income of agencies like mine increased dramatically.  Along the way it became possible, and desirable, for young entrepreneurs to start insurance agencies, which revitalized the country’s independent insurance agency system and created buyers for agencies when their owners were ready to retire.

The agency business is completely different now than it was twenty years ago. Along the way 2,500 new businesses have been created, 6,000 agencies have benefitted from increased security and income, and the dreams of thousands of agents and their employees have been made possible.  SIAA is now the largest interconnected ownership organization in the insurance industry. It has been responsible for virtually all of the property and casualty industry’s organic growth for years.

Looking back, Jim’s vision made it possible for my family’s dreams to come true. Jim partnered with me to create OAA. It was a real privilege to work alongside him to help make the dreams of dozens of others possible. After an incredible twenty years I am even more excited about what we will all do together during the next twenty.  I don’t know what the future looks like, but I am convinced it will be terrific!

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