The experienced and trusted team at Rockford’s powerhouse independent insurance agency made a youthful transition this year. Learn about the new face of this agency and the legacy and it’s inherited.
Mike Coyle knew he had to plan carefully when he decided to sell Coyle-Varland Insurance Agency, Inc. in 2013. The then 21-year-old, Rockford-based company housed 18 dedicated employees and strong ties with local businesses and residents. As a product of the merger between R.M. Coyle Company and Varland Insurance Agency Inc. in 1992, the firm also carried more than 60 years of knowledge, integrity and expertise in the insurance industry. It was a legacy Coyle hoped would be carried on in the right hands.
Luckily, he knew the perfect man for job.
“There were several outside firms that expressed an interest in buying, but that would have entailed some cultural change, employee anxiety and new systems and procedures,” says Coyle. “I wanted to keep the ownership local. By selling internally to Dana Kiley, the transition was as seamless as possible. We were able to keep the same great employees focused on giving the same great customer service that they have for years.”
After joining Coyle-Varland in February 2001, Kiley became the top new business producer at the agency year after year, says Coyle. His work and input consistently proved his honesty, integrity and dedication to the business and community. It created a clear and easy decision for Coyle.
Coyle and Kiley planned together for more than a year and a half to ensure a smooth transition for the company. On May 1, 2015, CoyleKiley Insurance Agency Inc., 401 E. State St., was formed to continue and grow upon the best of the agency’s decades-old base.
“There was an extremely strong foundation to the agency, but now we’re taking it to the next level with a group of younger individuals,” says Kiley, president and commercial business advisor. “I think the new name reflects that combination of our continued legacy and growth.”
Kiley now oversees a team of 18 full-time employees with three vice president partners: Mark Sudderberg, John Rose and Jeffrey Beto. Every employee, except one new hire, came from the original team of Coyle-Varland. As an independent insurance agency, retaining the knowledgeable staff was a key to keeping the agency’s clients and their trust in handling their insurance and investment needs.
“When a client comes to us, we do a thorough investigation of their insurance needs and take that information to the marketplace of our many trusted insurance carriers,” says Kiley. “We can then overview the client’s options in carriers, coverages, deductibles, payment plans, etc. and help them to decide what the best plan is for them. So we’re not the insurance carrier, we’re the insurance advisor. We represent the client’s needs.”
With a specialty in commercial business insurance, CoyleKiley also services personal insurance, executive planning, wealth management and employee benefits. It serves as a one-stop shop for all clients and is licensed to conduct business throughout the U.S.
“We try to take as much of the anxiety as possible off the client and work with the insurance carriers ourselves,” Kiley says. “When your car’s been wrecked, something’s been stolen, or your house or business is on fire, it can be hard to personally work through the insurance matters. We want to work with the carrier for you, while keeping you informed the whole time, to make the process as smooth as possible.”
CoyleKiley’s network of partnered carriers stems from the trusted relationships established by Coyle-Varland. Each one carries a minimum “A” financial strength rating by A.M. Best, a standard that comforts both CoyleKiley and its clients. With experienced employees and well-established relationships, CoyleKiley is well equipped to handle an entire company’s needs, from upper management to employees’ personal insurance policies.
“We want to simplify the process for our clients,” says Kiley. “You can go to multiple agencies or carriers for different insurance needs, but you’ll have to juggle two or three different agents and have the same conversation over and over again. When you come to us, you have the ability to market different policies with all of our carriers at once.”
These carriers are held to another important standard of CoyleKiley: They need to be relationship-oriented companies. Whether it’s maintaining strong relationships business-to-business or internally among employees, Kiley knows these connections were key to both his own agency’s history and the successful transition last year.
“I can’t imagine doing what we did without our team, because everyone helped with the changeover during those three to four months,” he says. “I know everyone always says their staff and customer service is great, but our staff members truly are the best. We try to let them know as often as possible, but it’s never enough. There’s never a day where I don’t think about how great our staff is.”
Kiley says the entire office maintains an open and family-oriented atmosphere, with strong ties to the Rockford community. Three of the partners were raised in Rockford, and they have known each other for decades; Rose and Kiley even attended Boylan Catholic High School together. Today, CoyleKiley stays actively involved with its carriers and clients, through memberships on advisory boards and community organizations.
“I think it’s very important and easy to talk about keeping business in Rockford when you’re from Rockford and live in Rockford,” says Kiley. “I can’t see us ever leaving the city.”
Although Coyle handed over the reins in May, he still serves as director and commercial business advisor for the agency.
“Since the sale in May 2015, CoyleKiley has continued to increase revenues every month,” says Coyle. “There has been no turnover in the staff as a result of the sale, and I am most pleased about that.”
Coyle, Kiley and their families were friends since 1987, says Kiley, well before the two established a mentorship in 2001. Coyle’s guidance and influence has been one of the most rewarding aspects for Kiley, who says he wants to emulate Coyle’s leadership style.
“For over a decade, I was able to learn from and see how Coyle and Wayne Varland did things – how they treated their clients and carriers, how their relationships were so strong,” Kiley says. “I believe relationships are what this business is all about, whether it’s with your staff, with your carriers or with your clients.”