January 6, 2014

IMA adds aviation insurance to its operations

Timothy Bonnell Sr. was finally ready.

Timothy Bonnell Sr. was finally ready.

After decades of casual merger conversations with officials at insurance brokerage IMA, Bonnell, the founder of Wichita-based PIM Aviation Insurance, said he finally decided he was ready to merge with the commercial insurance brokerage.

“They are one of the premiere agencies in the country,” Bonnell said. “We started talking (seriously) several months back, and it made sense to me. It presents a new challenge, something that will be fun.”

On Monday, IMA announced publicly the Jan. 1 merger.

Under the merger, Bonnell’s firm has a slightly tweaked name: PIM Aviation Insurance, a division of IMA.

Bonnell, who founded PIM in 1982, remains its leader as director. His son, Tim Bonnell Jr., is aviation team leader. And Kathy McNeil remains as commercial aviation manager. About six other PIM employees have also joined IMA, Bonnell said.

Bonnell said PIM has moved its offices from 2120 S. Airport Road to IMA’s building at 8200 E. 32nd St. North.

Jeff Grace, IMA’s Wichita market president, said his brokerage had earlier launched an aviation insurance practice “born from the needs of our (existing) clients.”

“It’s such a specialized industry,” Grace said. “The opportunity really was that we had our own department, but we didn’t have the knowledge, the expertise that PIM had. … We wanted more market share. We wanted more industry expertise.”

Grace declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal between the two privately held companies.

PIMs clients include commercial, recreational and business aircraft owners as well as fixed-base operations, aircraft and parts manufacturers, agriculture aviation and airline operations. Bonnell said PIM has clients in all 50 U.S. states as well as some overseas.

Grace said there are no plans by IMA to discontinue any parts of PIM’s business.

He said the merger also gives IMA the potential to add PIM clients to its property and casualty insurance brokerage business. Likewise, PIM could end up adding IMA clients who need aviation-related insurance.

“We do see a lot of opportunities,” Grace said.

Grace said PIM staff also will work with other IMA and IMA Financial Group offices in Denver, Dallas, Kansas City, San Antonio and Topeka. In Wichita, IMA employs about 190 people.

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