From the Archives: Insurance Marketing Agency of the Month

August 30, 2001– In 1920, Harold Wells, Sr. was a bank officer, running an insurance program the bank offered its customers. He recognized the opportunity that insurance presented, and started his own company-one that exists today as Harold W. Wells & Son, in Wilmington, NC. The agency, which has been recognized in the September 2001 edition of Rough Notes magazine as Marketing Agency of the Month, employs 55 people. Agency officials say growth has been steady for the last few decades, and that they’ve enjoyed revenue growth of 15 percent a year for the last five years. The agency has branch offices in Leland and Southport, which had been offices of an agency Wells acquired in 1998. The Leland office serves as a center for smaller commercial accounts. In the mid-1970s, Wells got involved in niche marketing, which allowed the agency to expand its territory into the entire eastern part of North Carolina–a move that proved to be key when nature decided to intervene. Wilmington is located on the coast and, prior to the agency’s move into niche marketing, most of its business was in coastal counties. In just four years, Wilmington sustained five direct hits from hurricanes. Bertha and Fran hit in 1996, Bonnie in 1997, and Dennis and Floyd in 1999. What had been a competitive market suddenly became problematic. The surge of storms was unusual, but it served as another impetus to examine the agency and its future. “We were always looking for ways to work smarter,” said Harold Wells, III, agency president. “We wanted to make certain that our agency remained independent and continued to grow and prosper into the future. In order to accomplish that goal, we needed to constantly stay ahead of the curve. “In October of 1999, we sent our sales manager, Jim Roberts, to a ‘Dare To Soar’ seminar, a two-day event presented by Roger Sitkins and several of his private clients,” Wells said. Jim came back from the meeting enthusiastic and convinced he’d been shown a better way to manage an agency. But it meant retraining the agency’s producers to operate in a different way. The agency implemented other changes designed to help it prosper. These include moving the agency toward commercial growth through referral business only, focusing account executive efforts on larger accounts, and organizing the large commercial lines staff into teams. (For details, read the full article, on page 18 of the September 2001 Rough Notes magazine, or online here at

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