A brief history of Central Insurance
Founded in 1989 in Blackpool, Central Insurance Brokers started off servicing local SMEs. In 2009 it became one of the first SME brokers to offer an online service, and this has been a significant contributor to the growth of the business overall.
Further growth led to the opening of another office in Whitehills Business Park in 2010 where the commercial department was based. Personal lines remained in its original offices in Central Drive. Following the management buyout in 2017, the business relocated and is now back under one roof in historic Stanley Park, Blackpool.
The men behind the business
2004 was a momentous year for Central when they employed current MD Drew Passmore as an Account Executive. Drew worked his way up to become Head of Operations, where he was responsible for the day-to-day running of the brokers, before buying the business in 2017 with Chris Reece.
Chris joined in 2007 as IT Manager and oversaw the development of the system which allowed the business to sell insurance online. Thanks to his innovation, the company doubled in size within two years, and geographical barriers were removed, allowing them to sell insurance across the UK.
Drew (32) and Chris (35) are Blackpool through and through, and when the previous owner announced that Central was being sold, they decided to try to keep the business in the town. An interested party wanted to buy the insurance book and transfer the business to Manchester, but Drew and Chris had other ideas.
Chris says: “It was all or nothing for us. We’d been there a long time, and we felt we had built it into what it is today and wanted a chance to run the business ourselves. We thought we had worked hard to make the business what it is today and didn’t want to see it all disappear to Manchester.”
Faced with losing their jobs and seeing their colleagues lose their jobs, they set up KBD Associates Limited, acquired the Central book and kept the company in Blackpool.
Once the buyout went ahead, their immediate goals were making the business more efficient and modernising their IT systems. Momentum provided support which allowed Central to cut back-office costs and focus on bringing in new business and client retention.
They also started using Momentum’s chosen IT system, Acturis, which significantly reduced renewal administration and improved their processes and procedures.
The business now
With Momentum’s support, Central continues to hit its goals and exceed its business targets. The business has seen growth on the previous year each month since October 2017. Improved commissions thanks to Momentum’s bargaining power means they’ve been able to focus on client retention while still improving financial performance.
The new IT system allows for flexible working, which is excellent for the staff and customers. Chris told us about an urgent policy change that came in via live chat on the website at 8pm on a Friday night. He was able to sort it out on his phone while he got ready to go out, rather than having to wait until Monday morning like they used to do. The result? One happy customer who renewed with the company.
Now the business is running more efficiently, Drew and Chris want to focus on investing in and growing their client base. They’re looking to take on more staff, having recently employed Kyle Passmore, Drew’s brother, to support him in bringing in new business.
Drew and Chris are also planning on developing the quote process and growing the business online. They’re also considering acquiring other local, traditional brokers and updating their businesses similarly to how they modernised Central.
Andy Graham, the account manager for corporate clients, told us: “We want to be seen as THE commercial insurance broker for Blackpool. We don’t think we’re far off that now.”