CIG Insurance opens Florida office, eyes additional growth there

10/23/2013 4:52 PM

10/23/2013 4:52 PM

CIG Insurance has opened an office near Florida’s west coast and is planning further expansion there, officials of the insurance brokerage said Wednesday.

Barney Barnhard, CIG’s operations officer, said the new office is in Cape Coral, just north of Fort Myers, and is staffed by three people.

“We hope to have three offices in three years along the west coast (of Florida), between Tampa and Naples,” Barnhard said.

Wichita-based CIG was founded in 2005, and its primary business is providing commercial insurance brokerage to privately held businesses with between 20 and 500 employees. Its services have expanded in recent years to include personal-lines insurance products, safety and human resources consulting and health insurance brokerage to companies.

Barnhard and Chock Chapple, CIG’s owner, said that while researching the Florida market as a possible expansion site, they contacted a producer, or agent, with whom they had previously worked. That contact led to her hiring, as well as two of her colleagues.

Barnhard and Chapple said they chose Florida because of its large population and potential for growth in the next decade. Finding veteran insurance producers to staff the expansion office was a bonus, they said.

“It was like getting a seasoned group of people you rarely encounter,” Barnhard said. “Two of them had 18-plus years’ experience in Florida.”

With their hiring, CIG’s employment is at 26 people. “We anticipate to be in the mid-30s by next year,” Chapple said.

The Florida office initially will offer only personal-lines insurance because that’s where the Florida staff has expertise, Chapple said.

Because of the personal-lines focus – which would include auto, home and life insurance – CIG is operating in Florida as Chapple Insurance Group.

Chapple and Barnhard said they do expect to eventually add commercial insurance brokerage services in Florida.

“There’s good growth opportunities because of the team in Florida,” Chapple said.

Chapple said the company’s three- to five-year plan is to grow to 50 employees working from offices in three states. The third, he said, will likely be in North Carolina, around the Charlotte area, because of its population size and its manufacturing base. But, he added, establishing an office there probably won’t happen until 2014 or 2015.

Chapple said the company expects to continue growing in Kansas. But he said the rate of growth here likely won’t be as much as the potential CIG has in Florida and North Carolina. “Our full intention is to (remain) headquartered in Wichita,” he said.

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