Unconventional choices often yield surprising results. This is especially true for the principals of McNeal Sports and Wilson (MSW) Risk Advisers, Inc. Take, for example, the genesis of this Waycross, Georgia, insurance agency: founded during the height of the Great Recession in a town most would consider sleepy by two young partners, fresh out of college. Add to the mix a stodgy market and the lustrous allure of the big city and you’ve got a recipe for failure and complacency, or frustration, at best.
Not so says Sam Sports, one of MSW’s founding partners. “We wanted to focus on quality not quantity. We could easily have gone to the big city and set-up shop. But we wanted to focus on our customers, not on transactions. We wanted to know their businesses and help them nurture and grow those businesses, the same way we wanted to grow ours. It was important not to be peddling a product but to really maximize return based on relationships.”
Indeed. Never ones to rest on industry tradition, MSW took advantage of a seldom changing market to create competitive advantages for the firm. “We learned quickly to adapt and be flexible. We found that being comfortable being uncomfortable was essential to success. None of us is a 9-to-5’er; we all work early and stay late, making sure we remain customer-focused. Relationships really influence the way we do business. It’s about trust. These are our neighbors and this is our community and we owe it to them to go above and beyond when protecting their interests.”
MSW quickly set about changing the southeast Georgia insurance scene. The agency has grown rapidly and organically, writing policies and providing risk advice for a variety of clients in the construction, agriculture, surety and municipality markets. Not satisfied with growth for growth’s sake, the agency has emerged as a leader in operations, customer satisfaction and financial performance. MSW was awarded a Best Practices agency in 2021 by the Independent Insurance Brokers of America.
Even the firm’s name is deliberate. “We’re not a brokerage, pushing products. We advise our customers on how to successfully manage risk,” Sports said. “We do audit walkthroughs with them. We help them minimize the impact of casualties. Our customers understand the ‘whys’ behind the terms of their policies. We’re here for them, whenever they have a question or concern.”
MSW’s new partnership with Oakbridge is deliberate as well. “We strive to keep our clients’ interests first, which is consistent with the Oakbridge philosophy and culture,” said MSW Managing Partner Dutch McNeal. “This partnership affords us unlimited reach and potential, allowing us to leverage the resources, training and technology of Oakbridge to expand our footprint and better serve our clients’ needs.”
Sports added, “It’s a good fit. Oakbridge shares our community-oriented values. We’re excited about this relationship. It’s going to allow us to spend more time doing what’s important, producing with our clients.”