Lancaster insurance agency sold
A Lancaster insurance business is under new ownership, effective late last month.
Cinthia Kettering sold The Bagnall Shaw Co. to Aaron Alder, a Massachusetts native who had been looking to buy an insurance company in Pennsylvania. Alder financed the deal through personal equity and bank financing and now owns 100 percent of the business. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
A Florida-based business broker put the two in touch. The broker had listed Kettering's business for sale in early July.
The majority of the company’s assets come from sales of home, auto and commercial policies, and the company maintains a premium value of nearly $7 million.
Kettering started Bagnall Shaw in 2010, which is located on West Orange St. in downtown Lancaster. Kettering said other business endeavors led to her decision to sell. She and her husband own several real estate businesses, and she plans to focus on those.
"I had little time to do other things. When you have a business, a good business, it’s kind of good to sell now. We don’t have a set-up plan of everything we want to do, but we have things in mind," she said.
She also plans to spend more time with her family, and to work on her second book, one that will be research-based. In 2013 she published a book of poetry.
Kettering believes Alder is "experienced and nice," and will continue to grow the business. Clients won’t see a difference with the change of ownership, she said.
The company is known for bilingual staff members who are fluent in English and Spanish – putting their Hispanic clients, who may only be proficient in Spanish, at ease. Though Alder is not fluent in Spanish, he said he intends to keep a "strong bilingual presence," he said.
Alder has kept all of the current staff members in place, and is hoping to eventually expand into other markets – both in the greater Lancaster area and eventually in Harrisburg, he said.
He also wants to focus on commercial policies.
"One of our marketing initiatives that I’m implementing is broadening our base market. We want to grow into serving more of the commercial community," he said. "We also want to reach out to the suburbs and broaden our staff to cater to all markets."
The 43-year-old Alder grew up in Cape Cod, attended college and graduate school in upstate New York, and spent the first 16 years of his career as a high school guidance counselor in Connecticut.
When his friend in the insurance business needed a director of operations, he felt it was time for a career switch. He took the job, and loved it. After two years, he wanted to own his own business.
"I wanted an agency that had a preferred standard business, a good reputation in the community, and an agency that was growing. I was also looking for brokerages that have Erie Insurance. They’re a market leader in PA," he said.
Alder had his eye on Pennsylvania both due to the opportunity to offer Erie Insurance, and also because of the state’s lower risk of natural disasters.
He also had an affinity for Lancaster.
"Lancaster is one of the fastest-growing cities, which is great for someone acquiring a business. It’s an exciting city," Alder said.
Alder developed a holding company called Patriot Holding Group in order to eventually acquire other businesses in the midstate under the group’s umbrella.
Alder lives with his wife and four-year-old son in Manheim Borough.