Michele was the CEO of KRA Insurance Agency, a full-service brokerage firm based in New Jersey, which was acquired by Risk Strategies in November of 2021.
KRA Insurance Agency traces its roots back to the Kalem Agency, which opened in Springfield, New Jersey in 1950. In 1970, Michael Rekoon joined the agency and became a partner in 1972. In 1985, the business was renamed KRA Insurance Agency (Kalem, Rekoon & Associates). I joined KRA in 2000 as a Personal Lines Account Manager. I worked hard and was promoted to Personal Lines Manager and then Assistant Vice President. I was ultimately offered a partnership in 2011 and became CEO in 2017.
KRA has always had strong ties to our community and a steadfast commitment to a business model built around becoming a long-term partner to our clients. Our loyal employees are like family and have tenures with us counted in decades. We are extremely proud of the culture and reputation we have built over the years, insuring generations of clients, their families and their businesses. It’s an approach that has served us well and allowed us to grow substantially.
As we grew, when it made sense for the business, we would acquire partners and agencies that aligned with our culture and growth strategy. As the years went on, however, those opportunities became fewer. Recent planning discussions about where we wanted to be in the next five to ten years and how we could get there revealed a need for resource investment beyond our capacity. We wanted to attract the top talent, capitalize on the ever-changing world of social media and take advantage of the newest technologies available to both our employees and clients. We decided we needed to find a larger firm to partner with that could expand our market access, awareness and recruiting efforts.
Not only did we want to find the best fit for our clients, we also wanted to ensure the partner agency was a cultural fit. We didn’t want someone coming in and immediately changing everything we worked so hard to build and let employees go. With Risk Strategies, we felt an immediate connection from the first meeting. Risk Strategies understood our culture and treated us like family.
There was also alignment in the business structure that gave us an additional level of comfort. We not only shared similar carriers, which gave us confidence in the trusted market relationships, but also were going to bring to the partnership some new carriers that would benefit Risk Strategies. In addition, Risk Strategies offered direct access to certain E&S lines and wholesalers that we didn’t have and could provide dedicated HR and marketing support so we could focus on the business.
In the time we’ve been with Risk Strategies, we’ve already been able to capitalize on opportunities we would’ve previously passed on due to lack of market access. The new partnership has allowed us to pursue larger groups that, in the past, had service needs beyond our capabilities.
In the past KRA never considered such a partnership, however it became clear that in order to continue to be competitive in this ever-changing market, we knew it was the best option for our people and clients. I’m thrilled to say that our ideal partner expectations have become our reality and we couldn’t be happier with the choice to join Risk Strategies.