John was President and CEO of Pawson Insurance, a full-service retail insurance brokerage specializing in property & casualty and employee benefits solutions.
I’ve spent my entire life in the insurance business. My father ran a small, one-man shop and first introduced me to the business during summers in college while attending the University of New Haven. As a business major, I became interested in the intricacies and challenges of insurance. I got licensed in 1983 and earned my stripes in the business over the next 14 years working at a small agency in my hometown of Branford, Connecticut.
I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart and after 14 years, I decided to venture out on my own and build my book of business. I bought an agency that was for sale, we grew organically and in early 2000, there was an opportunity to acquire Pawson Insurance. My younger brother, Joe, joined the team and together, we began a growth trajectory. Over the next two decades, we built Pawson into one of Connecticut’s top risk management specialists.
Our “mom and pop” approach successfully positioned us as a small, independent, and local insurance agency that was still big enough to offer a broad array of products and services, and had strong ties to the large insurance carriers. Pawson became synonymous with personalized customer service, around-the-clock responsiveness, and a strong community presence. As a result, the referrals flowed in.
While we experienced many solid years of growth, the business was slowly becoming stagnant and the entrepreneurial spirit which had guided me so well throughout my career began to lag. The agency was at a crossroads. Reinvigorating our business and sparking new growth would require a big investment in new staff, new technologies and new producer training and development programs.
When we met the team at Risk Strategies, I was instantly struck by our similar cultures. From the get-go, Risk Strategies felt like how we like to operate. It was a similar business approach, just on a much larger scale. The resources, from the support systems to the specialty expertise in all of the practice areas, meant that Risk Strategies could help us take our business to the next level without drastically changing our values. We could stay on the same track, but with a much bigger engine behind us.
Another advantage we saw in joining Risk Strategies was the opportunities for collaborating with other divisions in the family to win new business and cross sell in our own backyard. Within a 20-mile radius, we now have partners at Risk Strategies specialty divisions including Gowrie Group, an industry leading boat and yacht broker, and TriPoint Insurance, an expert in alternative risk financing solutions. Capitalizing on the unique specialization of these and the many other specialty practice areas Risk Strategies offers, enables us to open the doors to new, larger accounts that we may have missed out on in the past. We are excited by these collaborations and the ability to be more competitive across the full insurance spectrum. The hub we’re building in Connecticut is really something special.
Having spent most of my career as an independent insurance broker, joining the Risk Strategies family has been a phenomenal transition. The entire process couldn’t have gone any better.