Lifestyle Personal Lines the December 2013 issue

Tom Riley, President & COO, AssuredPartners

As the agency ownership ages, we would like to be one of the answers to their perpetuation issues.
By Chris Hann
Q
A lot of people play golf, sometimes at the best courses in the world. But so far none have had “professional golfer” on their résumé.
A
After graduate school, I gave the mini-tours in Florida a shot for a year and a half. I made some money but not enough. With an MBA and CPA, I went to work for Arthur Young & Co., the national CPA firm at that time. Never had any regrets for trying though. Golf is a great asset in the business world.

Do you still play a lot?
My handicap is up to a two now, so I’m not as competitive as I was in the ’80s. I play about once a week. It’s still fun to compete and win every now and then.

Tell us a little about your business.
We started the business on March 1, 2011. We did our first acquisition that September. First it was just Jim [chairman and CEO Jim Henderson] and me with three other people who had worked with us at our previous company. Our first acquisition was Neace Lukens. That was a big one. They were $86 million in revenue. We have 42 announced deals as of October 1, 2013, and our run rate is somewhere around $260 million in revenue with nearly 1,600 employees.

Do you expect to continue this rate of acquisition?
Yes. There is a need out there as the agency ownership ages. We would like to be one of the answers to their perpetuation issues.

Where did you grow up?
I’m from Kentucky, a little town called Russellville, in south-central Kentucky, near Bowling Green.

Tell us about Russellville.
We were the county seat, with about 7,000 people. It’s a very small farming community. My dad owned the drug store on the town square. My dad and my brother, Donnie, are both pharmacists.

How did you start playing golf?
There was nothing else to do in Russellville. In the summers, my brother and I swam on swim teams in the morning and played golf and tennis in the afternoon.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I’ve got five kids. Two of them are younger, a 10-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter, who are involved in all the usual stuff. Since I travel so much, we try to take a couple of nice vacations a year to get away from work with them.

Who was your most influential business mentor?
That would be Jim Henderson. He is extremely well thought of in our industry. When I was in public accounting, my mentor was a guy named Dan Moran, a managing partner at Arthur Young. Everybody needs somebody to help them along the way when things aren’t going great. Fortunately, I’ve had a couple good ones. 

What is the best advice you ever got?
My dad gave me great advice a long time ago. I was attending college, but I didn’t have a declared major at that point. He advised me to major in accounting, and it certainly served me well. I’ve got a son who’s 28 now. I said the same thing to him.

And did he get an accounting degree?
Actually, he has a master’s degree in it as well.

What’s he doing now?
He’s working for us in the IT department. He’s really a remarkable young man. In 2009, when he was just about to graduate from college, he hit his head playing flag football and happened to snap a blood vessel in his brain—an acute subdural hematoma. The neurosurgeon cut off about a quarter of Jordan’s skull to relieve the pressure. He was very fortunate that he got in and was able to get it operated on and saved his life. Coming out of surgery that night, the doctor told us he’s not going to make it. Jordan had to have two other operations since then and went to the NYU Institute for Brain Injury Program.

Wow. Were there any lingering effects from his injury?
His short-term memory got compromised and a few other issues, but he has made remarkable progress and otherwise you’d never know he had a brain injury.

What have you learned that you like to pass on to others?
This business is all about hard work. There’s no magic to it. There’s no luck to it. It’s hard work. And doing the right things by your customers.

What gives you your leader’s edge in this industry?
A lot of it is just experience and having done it. I was a salesman; I started an office and started buying agencies in 1992. As a CFO, I have done the accounting side of the business. Over the years, I was, and still am, very involved with carriers. I’ve done about 150 or 160 transactions. A lot of people appreciate that you’ve done just about everything along the way, from being a salesman to CFO to buying agencies to putting them together.

The Riley File

Age: 58
Hometown: Lake Mary, Fla.
Family: Wife: Cathy (married 11 years); kids: Dustin, 31; Jordan, 28; Chelsea, 24; Conner, 10; Taylor, 8
Last Book Read: “I’ve read all the James Patterson books. I’ve read all the Stuart Woods books as well. They’re both action-packed.”
Wheels: BMW 750

Chris Hann Associate Editor Read More

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