Back in 2007, Charlotte Business Journal did a piece about our growing agency. You can view the original, or read the article below.
We've come a long way!
Learning to downshift: Insurance agency refocused its growth in Charlotte
Originally authored by Fred Tannenbaum of Charlotte Business Journal
When longtime friends Marty Karriker and Sean Hertel bought the American United insurance agency in 1992, they were immediately racing for the finish line.
Right away, they renamed the company Insur-A-Car. In 1995, the partners opened their first branch office on Charlotte's east side and then added one in Kannapolis. Facilities in Monroe and Gastonia followed in 1996. So did the purchase of a small High Point agency, which gave Insur-A-Car a presence in Greensboro as well.
By mid-1998, Karriker and Hertel began feeling the strain of running a far-flung enterprise.
The stress was brought home one day that July when two Greensboro employees called in sick. Karriker jumped in his car to drive there to fill in. He ended up sitting in traffic after an accident blocked the road.
"I thought, 'Why am I going to Greensboro on a Friday when I've got hundreds of thousands of people right here in my own backyard that I haven't even tapped into?'"
Karriker and Hertel were also feeling the strain in their wallets. Their advertising costs had doubled since the company started.
So the pair decided to shift strategy. By the end of 1999, they sold all the Insur-A-Car offices except two in Charlotte.
By concentrating solely on the Charlotte region, they were able to save money on marketing. "We can spend one set of advertising dollars and have it affect the entire region," Karriker says.
They also were able to focus their attention on local customers. In 2002, Insur-A-Car began serving Cornerstone Financial Partners, a Cornelius wealth-management firm, with business insurance. It also helped Cornerstone's employees with auto and home coverage.
Jeff Carbone, a Cornerstone partner, says Karriker and Hertel helped him save money on premiums while improving his coverage. "They are very genuine and professional. Their staff does a great job answering questions and concerns."
In 2006, Karriker and Hertel changed the company's name to Charlotte Insurance, reflecting the broader range of services it offers. In addition to marketing auto insurance, the company sells coverage for homes, businesses and personal items, including boats.
Having restructured and transformed their business, Karriker and Hertel are expanding again -- but this time within metro Charlotte. Their newest offices are in Huntersville and the Denver community in Lincoln County.
The pair plans eight more agencies in the region. Locations and a timetable haven't been determined.
There are benefits to opening all eight offices at once, rather than adding one or two per year, Karriker says. "But it costs more money up front to make a splash."