HomeInsuranceBasin Pacific Insurance joins Highstreet brokerage

Basin Pacific Insurance joins Highstreet brokerage

Basin Pacific Insurance and Benefits’ Kennewick branch will unveil a new name later this month: Highstreet Insurance and Financial Services.

Founder and Managing Partner Brad Toner, along with his two sons, Justin and Josh Toner, and the Basin Pacific leadership team decided to merge their Kennewick and Othello offices and Manley Crop Insurance division in Prosser with Highstreet, a Traverse City, Michigan-based insurance provider.

“We’ve always been ferociously independent but … we shared a lot of common values and goals and working together made a lot of sense. Long term, I think it’s also better for the Tri-City community because there is a lot of benefit from combining with Highstreet,” Justin Toner said.

Highstreet is the 26th largest privately-owned insurance broker in the U.S., according to a May 2023 Hales Report. It’s backed by Abry Partners private equity firm of Boston and was founded five years ago when it acquired Peterson McGregor & Associates of Traverse City.

Since then, the company has acquired over 150 agencies, employing over 2,300 insurance professionals across 275 offices in 31 states to be named one of the fastest-growing insurance agencies in the country.

Other local acquisitions

Basin Pacific joins four other local insurance agencies that also were recently acquired: JPI Insurance Solutions of Kennewick, Legacy One Insurance of Richland, Good Oman Insurance of Pasco and The Stratton Agency of Pendleton.

All Basin Pacific offices are independently owned, so the remaining 13 locations across Washington, Oregon and Idaho not owned by the Toners will remain in the Basin Pacific family.

“It really is a partnership more than an acquisition,” Brad Toner said. “Together we form a strong regional presence while maintaining localized management and expertise.”

Unlike a traditional buyout, Highstreet employs a partnership model where the local insurance offices and their teams remain in place.

“Seventy-one percent of (Highstreet) today is owned by guys like me and Justin – founders and owner-operators,” said Jacob Neighbors, an agency president of Highstreet Insurance and Financial Services.

Basin Pacific was founded in 1997 in Moses Lake by Gary Trautman. Brad Toner opened the Kennewick branch in 2010.

Economies of scale

Many of the agencies joining Highstreet have second-generation owners.

“The communities we serve have come to depend on our expertise and helping them protect their assets, their homes, their businesses,” Neighbors said.

Justin Toner said serving their local communities is their highest priority. “We want people to do business with us because they know they can trust us and that we offer the best services and products they can find,” he said.

The partnership network model serves to strengthen all agencies choosing to join it.

“A lot of the traditional buyoffs you see in the marketplace today are not very collaborative,” Neighbors said. “They sell their company and tomorrow they have a new boss in San Francisco … Our unique approach is we partner together, and we are the ones driving the decision-making locally, but we have other folks at the company that can help us at the highest level.”

Neighbors was previously a partner at Simmons Insurance Group in Hermiston before its merger with Highstreet. He said running a small insurance business can be challenging.

“We join together to garner economies of scale, combine resources to get the best technology, build stronger carrier relationships that (individual agencies) might not be able to build on (their) own to bring best-in-class service to our clients,” Neighbors said.

“I think of it like a sports team,” he continued. “All the best players want to be playing together and that’s what (Highstreet) is about. We bring really great folks together who are like-minded, customer-focused and who value their employees and communities in a strong way.”

Market conditions

Current market conditions are also causing insurance professionals to get creative with their business direction. Inflation and ongoing supply chain disruption have caused replacement rates of assets to creep up, resulting in increases to insurance premiums.

At the same time, the increasing occurrence of natural disasters due to extreme weather such as wildfires and hurricanes was caused the number and value of claims to skyrocket. When insurance companies have to pay out more benefits, rates go up for all.

Another driving factor locally is the ongoing rapid growth of both the Tri-City region and Oregon’s border communities to the south, which have seen an explosion in recent years in warehouses, data centers and renewable energy farm construction that challenge both small-town dynamics and the resources of small insurance offices.

Growing businesses also have increasingly complex insurance needs. “All of us – including me – were raised in small towns,” Brad Toner said. “I want small towns to survive without them having to think they have to go to Seattle or Portland for their insurance needs.”

Another benefit is that customers, especially those who were previously in outlying areas, will now have more locations under the Highstreet banner where they can manage their insurance needs.

Those outside the Tri-Cities, Prosser and Othello area will likewise benefit from the unique lines of products Basin Pacific brings to the collective table in the form of crop insurance and bonding.

Two changes are coming to the Basin Pacific team, however, with the merger: Brad Toner will be moving up into Highstreet regional management to provide leadership in the agribusiness sector, and Justin Toner will oversee all of Highstreet’s partner offices across Tri-Cities, providing leadership for 50 employees.

The local office will continue to be overseen by the Toner family.

“We’re excited to serve the Tri-Cities community under a new banner with the same great folks but expanded services,” Justin Toner said. “If you haven’t done business with us in the past, it might be a good time to explore those options.”

Highstreet Insurance Partners: hsip.com.

Basin Pacific Insurance and Benefits: 6816 W. Rio Grande Ave., #C120, Kennewick; 509-735-7506, basinpacifictricities.com.

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