Close Ties Like Taber Corn: The Secret of Saunders Insurance’s 50+ Year Relationship with RSA Canada
Saunders Insurance was founded by Gordon and Joseph Saunders in 1963, and to this day it remains the only family-owned and independent insurance brokerage in Taber and the surrounding area. Brokerage has since passed through the family to Mike Saunders, who retired just over six years ago, and current chairman Ken Holst, who said the company “ [its] Hat ”on its long-standing independence and strong local relationships.
“Because we are a local business, we are very invested and involved in our local community,” said Holst. “We take great pride in serving our community well and doing all we can to take care of people. Often times someone comes to us and we will talk about their family or the local baseball league for 15 minutes before addressing their insurance needs. Building and maintaining these relationships is important, and I think people really enjoy this aspect of working with Saunders Insurance.
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While Taber is known specifically for its corn, the surrounding region of southern Alberta is “an agricultural area like nowhere else in Canada,” according to Holst. Local farms grow regular crops like corn, potatoes, and grains, but they are also known to produce specialty crops like sugar beets, hemp, and canola. Many farms in the region have grown into huge business entities, with thousands of acres of land, supported by top-of-the-line harvesting equipment, irrigation technology, and large storage facilities.
“It was a challenge to keep up with these changes, but also a lot of fun, and we are proud of our expertise in this agricultural world,” Holst told Insurance Business. “Of course, we also work with a lot of family farms, but we really like finding insurance solutions for these large, constantly evolving business entities. The technology on some of these farms is crazy – for example, a high-end potato harvester can cost as much as $ 1.2 million – and as the farms depend more on the technology, they need more. ‘a different type of insurance. We are constantly working with our insurers and agricultural partners to see how the agricultural sector is changing and how we can provide insurance and risk management solutions that best meet their needs.
One carrier that has supported Saunders Insurance since its inception is RSA Canada. Through its sales force in the Prairies, RSA Canada and Saunders Insurance have built a fruitful five-decade relationship – one that focuses on the willingness of both parties to engage as people and friends. After each fall harvest (before COVID), the Saunders Insurance team take dozens of bags of Taber corn to the RSA office in Calgary, where they set up a huge roasted corn, and they get to know the underwriters and customers. RSA sales specialists on a personal level. .
“Susie on the phone suddenly becomes Susie with the hockey crazed son who likes more butter with his corn. This type of relationship is just great and we find it extremely valuable to invest our time in this stuff with RSA. This is the secret of our long-standing relationship; this is what makes business strong and how it should be done. It all depends on the people, ”said Holst. “And what sets RSA apart as an operator partner is that they are ready to get to know us on a personal level and they want to bring that personal touch. We love their service and their products, but what we value most are the people. “
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Small, specialty brokerage firms, like Saunders Insurance, need underwriters who understand and appreciate the unique risks in their communities. Realizing this, the brokerage has welcomed RSA underwriters over the years, leading them to see and experience the risks they insure. Although RSA no longer has an agricultural program, it provides commercial auto insurance for agricultural vehicles and a wide range of solutions for other key markets with which Saunders Insurance deals, such as oil and gas, construction and construction. retail.
“We had RSA insurers in Taber during harvest time, and we took them out of these huge new potato and corn harvesters,” Holst said. “We visited clients together, looked at their machines and operations, and then they returned home with a clear understanding of their policyholders’ businesses, as well as a whole host of corn, sugar beets and pumpkins. After that when we approach them and say ‘Joe needs another high end potato harvester for his farm’ or ‘Remember that belt we saw in the corn harvester and how that pulled the corn – which hit a rock and broke ” – they know what we’re talking about and they can help. What a world of difference it makes. ”