Most new insurance agencies would not advise starting with zero clients or prospects and no infrastructure, but that’s exactly what Great North Insurance has done, and quite successfully at that. The agency’s founder, Nick Killoran, wanted a challenge, and with his prior successes in the banking industry, embraced building a new business in a hard market.
Killoran teamed up with Zach Bosh, whom he worked with at Wells Fargo, and they quickly got to work. “I always knew that we were going to open a business; I just didn’t know what type of business it would be,” he said. “When we got to thinking about something that would play on our strengths, that’s when insurance popped up as a way to provide a higher level of service to our clients.”
After just five years, Great North was able to eliminate all start-up costs, and they proudly run a 100% locally owned independent agency.
Like any great leader, Killoran credits his success to the work of the team and high standards in the workplace. “My strong suit is connecting the right people together as a team,” he said. “As far as the heavy lifting and work with our clients, that I attribute to the team. They truly put their best foot forward every single day, which makes it easy to grow as a business when everyone is acting like an owner.”
It’s this great teamwork that has helped Great North Insurance overcome a number of adversities. Killoran believes in hiring for attitude and training for skill, and with his team bringing together diverse backgrounds, they’ve seen incredible growth.
“I have learned to step back, and that took time,” he said. “Hiring the right people is just one step – the rest is getting out of their way.”
Great North Insurance also makes sure to treat every customer the right way. High standards ensure that they provide the best care and attention for all, from the smallest client to the largest client. This customer-centric model has shown in the agency’s satisfaction reviews, where they consistently see high marks.
Outside of their client care, Killoran emphasizes a family-first approach in the workplace and encourages vacations, time with children and volunteerism. By having a close-knit team that can step up and share the workload, it means that no client will ever have to wait to receive assistance.
It also means that the Great North team has flexibility. “Our goal is to provide top notch service which will create a good business,” Killoran said. “But we also need to be a community partner. If we can provide our people the freedom to attend personal events and not feel guilty about being away from the office, it’s so very important.”
Great North even offers VTO (volunteer time off) hours so the team can give back to their community while on the clock. As an organization, they are involved with Junior Achievement, the YWCA of Cass-Clay, the United Way Cass-Clay and the March of Dimes ND Chapter. Killoran and his wife Michelle are even chairing the Signature Chef’s Auction for the March of Dimes later this month on September 22.
It’s evident that Great North Insurance has immense pride for the region in which they work. “I can’t think of a better place to open a business,” Killoran said. “The support has been unbelievable, and people are so willing to help support local business. On every level, it’s fantastic.”
If there’s one thing Killoran wants you to know, it’s the difference between an independent insurance agency and a captive agent. Captive agents can provide an insurance quote from one carrier, whereas independent agencies are typically locally owned businesses that provide multiple options for the client to choose from. The key competitive advantage independent agencies have over captive agents are products from multiple insurance carriers. Nationally recognizable brands like Nationwide, Travelers, Safeco, MetLife and Progressive.
“When you call Great North Insurance, you’re going to get multiple quotes from multiple carriers to ensure you get the best policy and the best value,” he said. “The real difference though is you get local representation through all of it. To me, it’s a win-win.”
What types of insurance does Great North offer?
- Home & Renters
- Multi-Peril Crop/Hail
- and more!