Giving Half of Profits to Charity is Good Business for GoodWorks Insurance, Marking 10 Years in Connecticut and Massachusetts
GLASTONBURY—Taking charity to a new level, GoodWorks Insurance, an independent insurance agency founded in 2006, gives half of its profits to local nonprofits throughout the Northeast.
It’s the firm’s recipe for success.
“We do well because we do good,” says CEO Chad Yonker. “Deserving local charities get much-needed funds. We reap goodwill that helps drive our growth.”
Based in Glastonbury, the firm also has Connecticut offices in Avon, Columbia, and New Milford, as well as Massachusetts offices in Great Barrington and Worcester.
GoodWorks Community Grants go to nonprofits that support education, healthcare, public safety and community development in the places GoodWorks does business. Recent recipients include Operation Fuel (Avon, Conn.), New Milford Visiting Nurse Association, Community Health Plan (Great Barrington, Mass.), FOCUS Center for Autism (Canton, Conn.), Granby Education Foundation (Granby, Conn.), and the Farmington Valley YMCA.
How can the firm afford to give away so much to charity and still reinvest in itself? Part of it is that Yonker, the principal owner, doesn’t take any compensation from the company. “That increases the profit pool available for giving, and it keeps us true to our vision of splitting the profits evenly between the community and our agency’s ownership,” he says.
In 2006, the previous management opened two start-up offices and adopted the charity-first strategy and created GoodWorks Insurance. Other agencies were purchased in Worcester and Glastonbury over the next five years.
The charity strategy worked, but despite strong growth, by 2011, the firm was running into financial trouble. “The previous management overpaid for the agencies they purchased,” Yonker says.
Yonker, a former hedge-fund manager, then became the majority owner and recapitalized the firm. A full turnaround began.
Today, GoodWorks Insurance is financially strong, has a staff of top-notch insurance professionals headed by Chief Operating Officer Paul Brian, and is growing rapidly. Revenues are up 200 percent since 2011.
Growing revenues and profits let GoodWorks give away more. Yonker expects revenues to grow by about 25 percent in 2016, partly because of its acquisition of Metayer Bonding Associates of Avon, Connecticut, in late 2015.
“We’ve grown from a startup to being one of the larger agencies in New England, and we expect to more than double our size in the next twelve months,” Yonker says.
Metayer ranked as the largest privately owned surety-bond-only agency in the Northeast. The merger gives contractors in the Northeast the ability to meet all their bonding and insurance needs from a single provider, according to Yonker.
“We’re making a big push to expand our contractor business in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and nearby states,” he says. “Few other agencies have comparable expertise in both bonds and construction insurance. And just like GoodWorks Insurance, Metayer Bonding’s capabilities and client list extend both nationally and internationally due to its strong relationships with bond underwriters.”
The founder, Michael Metayer, joined the GoodWorks Insurance team. Now a part owner of Metayer Bonding Associates, he continues to run the firm as its president.
That’s a typical pattern. Neil Scranton sold Scranton & Johnson Inc., an independent insurance agency in Glastonbury he founded in 1975, to GoodWorks Insurance in 2009. Today, he’s the firm’s regional president. James Kick sold New Milford Insurance Agency to GoodWorks in October 2012. He’s now senior vice president and head of GoodWorks Insurance’s New Milford office.
Growth gives the agency’s customers more choices.
“We have the expertise and capabilities to compete with the large national insurance brokers on a wide variety of business, both domestically and internationally,” Yonker says. “And because we directly represent more than 60 insurance carriers, we can shop widely to get our clients the best coverage at a competitive price. On the other hand, we offer something the national brokers can’t – local, personalized service at each of our six locations, coupled with a true passion and commitment to helping the communities we do business in.”
Forming Partnerships Advances Business and Mission
Strategic partnerships with trade and business associations drive growth. GoodWorks Insurance has garnered several key endorsements and partnerships from organizations like the Academy of Physician Assistants, Connecticut Energy Marketers Association, Central Massachusetts Employers Association, Gasoline & Automotive Service Dealers of America, Homebuilders & Remodelers of Western Massachusetts, Massachusetts Brewers Guild, and reSET, with several more in the works.
GoodWorks Insurance is also creating innovative “special funds” for some of its key program sponsors. These funds will grow over time and allow sponsoring organizations to direct grants to local charities their members care about.
For instance, the 3,000 owners of the Berkshire Co-op Market in Great Barrington support local charities at the same time as saving on auto and home insurance. Whenever a Co-op owner buys a home or auto insurance policy through GoodWorks Insurance, the insurance agency will deposit 20percent of its commissions to the Berkshire Market Co-op Community Fund.
Members of the Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Western Massachusetts automatically support their own educational foundation under a recent agreement with GoodWorks Insurance. It will donate 20 percent of its commissions to the Home Builders Foundation of Western Massachusetts on all business and personal insurance policies members buy from it.
In July, GoodWorks was named a general partner of reSET, a Hartford-based nonprofit whose mission is to advance the social enterprise sector in New England. It will run workshops on insurance and risk management. It also gave a $5,000 grant to reSET, which will go towards reSET’s operations and enabling it to apply for matching funds from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
Serving more than 10,000 clients, GoodWorks Insurance (www.goodworksinsurance.com) offers auto, home insurance, business insurance and surety bonds. Besides insuring families and small businesses in general, it has special expertise in nonprofits, fuel dealers, aerospace firms, manufacturers, financial institutions, commercial contractors and surety bonds.
Contact: Henry Stimpson, Stimpson Communications, 508-647-0705, Henry@StimpsonCommunications.com