By, Tom Sukay, Founder of Sukay & Associates.
We wanted to spend a moment to thank all of our clients as we celebrate our 15th anniversary.
15 years ago, I had no intention of starting the firm. I was a CFO of a large company that had just been sold, and I was trying to determine the path of the rest of my career. A friend of mine Randy Butz wanted to sell his insurance agency and asked me a few questions. He was working with a buyer who was represented by an advisor, and Randy wanted to make sure that the offer and structure of the deal were fair. I added some value early on, and Randy and his partners asked if they could formally engage me. I really enjoyed working with Randy, Jim, and Steve and made sure that the deal was done properly.
At that time, I asked John Biasiello to work with me on certain aspects of the deal. John and I agreed to start Sukay & Associates and work together on one premise. Our founding principle of the company was that we would never do anything that was not in the best interest of our clients regardless of how our actions would impact us personally. We talked about how these types of situations could occur. The best buyer may not always be the highest proposal. We would never recommend a buyer solely on the transaction value. We discussed how important it was to assess how a buyer conducted themselves during the marketing process, due diligence, and preparation of the legal documents. Difficult negotiations often revealed character, both good and bad. Buyers who acted badly during this process were not a good long-term partner for our clients. Many times our clients were merged into a local office. It was important to assess the abilities and characters of the local management.
Our next founding principle was to build up trust with the buyers. We would never misrepresent or mislead the buyers in order to benefit our clients. The building of long-term trust would be critical to our success. We also agreed to never give one potential buyer an advantage over another buyer. We were tested early. The buyer for one of our clients was changing the deal between the letter of intent and the asset purchase agreement. We warned the buyer’s advisors that we would recommend that we would walk if the buyer acted badly just one more time. The other advisor laughed at us and said that we would never walk away from such a large fee. Inevitably, the buyer tried to change the deal. We walked away from the deal that was weeks away from closing and started the process over from scratch. In the end, we maximized value and found the best deal for our client.
John and I had built our careers as buyers at a number of agencies. We thought that gave us an advantage as an advisor because we understood the perspective of the buyer. We assessed the agency from the buyer’s perspective. We addressed the issues and concerns of the buyer before they did. We offered reasonable solutions. We made the process easier on the buyers and, in the end, easier for our clients and us.
15 years ago, we felt that the insurance industry was not being served well by the advisors we worked with. They either didn’t work in the best interest of their clients, or the work was being performed by inexperienced staff members. A recent conversation has indicated that this reputation hasn’t changed much, if at all. The agency leader stated that he didn’t trust advisors and didn’t think they were equally fair to all buyers. The ironic part was that he didn’t seem to recognize that he was placing us in the same bucket as the other advisors. It is apparent that we can’t speak for an entire industry. We could simply restate our original founding principle that we would never do anything that is not in the best interests of our clients. A single fee means nothing to us. Our reputation means everything.
We are proud of how we have accomplished our clients’ goals over the last 15 years, and we look forward to building new relationships in the future.
This year, we celebrate 15 Years in business. Our founding principle of the company was that we would never do anything that was not in the best interest of our clients regardless of how our actions would impact us personally.
Posted by Sukay & Associates on Tuesday, June 18, 2019
As a firm, we believe answering the question “How much is my agency worth?” is part of our responsibility and the foundation of a great working relationship – even if that is further in the future. Because of this we, unlike most firms, offer free insurance agency valuations for those who qualify. Click below to apply.