Open for Business in the Bakken – Frontier Insurance Solutions
An essential component of opening any business is to let potential customers know who you are, what you do, and that you are open for business. In layman’s terms “hanging out your shingle”. Seems logical doesn’t it? Opening your doors in any marketplace has to be more than Kevin Costner’s Field of Dreams, “build it and they will come”. After all how does anyone know who and what you do if you don’t have a sign telling everyone with a logo that quickly identifies your business. How would we find McDonald’s without it’s golden arches, a Nike shoes store without it’s swoosh, or an Apple computer store without it’s apple.
Well, just like most things in the Bakken, sometimes things aren’t logical; they happen because demand simply far exceeds supply. Such is the case for Max Graham, one of the principals at Frontier Insurance Solutions, Inc. of Billings, MT with the company’s recent expansion (November 2011) into the Bakken. Max and his son, Justin, were fortunate to purchase an existing insurance agency that had literally been in Williston since 1969 (The Streifel Agency). Due to it’s longevity in the marketplace, The Streifel Agency, never had to hang out a shingle and when the Graham’s purchased the business late last fall, there was no sign to remove. For much of it’s existence, the locals just knew where it was.
Since acquiring the business the phone has literally been ringing off the hook, walk in traffic is constant, and local financial institutions & existing customers make referrals daily, as do developers in new subdivisions. Frontier Insurance Solutions in Williston hasn’t had time to hang out a shingle. The only tell tale sign that the building houses an insurance agency is the “Allstate” sign which was there when the business was known as the Streifel Agency. Max & Justin attribute the rapidly increasing customer base to the unbelieveable growth throughout the Bakken oil field, the mass influx of folks from all over the country seeking better economic times, the massive amount of independent commercial truck drivers needing coverage, and Frontier’s ability to deliver very competitive rates through their diverse line of insurance carriers.
Acquiring an existing agency was a stroke of good fortunate for Frontier Insurance Solutions. The cost of renting or building commercially in Williston is cost prohibitive. Importing employees and housing them continues to be challenging. Initial employees lived in a camp trailer behind the building and showered at the health club daily until Justin was able to purchase a home. His family remains anchored in Billings, MT until the completion of the school year this spring. The camp trailer is no longer behind the building, but at Justin’s home and now houses a husband and wife team (insurance agents) who have braved the Bakken frontier with Justin to handle the unbelievable market demand.
It’s been said that the Bakken has unique challenges and barriers to business expansion. Affordable workforce housing being one; the other, finding and retaining quality employees who don’t succumb to the daily allure of high wages in the oil field. When asked, “knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently”, Max Graham responded with “not under estimating the potential business here”. YTD sales are up 90% from the previous year. Max & Justin opened the office with only one agent – Justin. The office now houses three qualified agents who write life, health, auto, home, and various forms of business insurance – but they already need another agent. Key’s to success – being fortunate enough to acquiring an existing agency & existing physical location; having the only Allstate office in the region, and a competive line up of insurance carriers.
To connect with the experienced team at Frontier Insurance Solutions to solve your insurance needs, click to their website or their Synergy Station Directory Listing.