At its heart, Archway Insurance is very much a family business. Its story began in November of 1985, when Garry Stack took a leap of faith and bought into an insurance company. As the company has grown over the past decades, so too has the involvement of family members. Today, Garry’s wife, Jane, works in accounting, and his kids have come on board as well: Michael is the firm’s vice president; Michael’s wife, Chastity, is the account manager; Garry’s daughter, Gina, is the manager of the Archway Halifax branch and head of marketing for the company; and his youngest son, Robert, is a commercial accounts manager in Halifax.
With the Stack family as its foundation, Archway has become a notable insurance provider in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. However, it’s not always smooth sailing.
“With six direct family members involved in the business, it’s very hard to get through Thanksgiving or Easter dinner without work monopolizing the conversation,” Garry says. Ultimately, however, it’s this stable framework that has allowed for Archway’s continued growth over the years.
Beyond family, Archway’s history can be measured in acquisitions. Since its inception, the company has acquired 14 other insurance firms. Archway’s head office may be located in the small town of Amherst, Nova Scotia, but its proactive approach to acquisitions has allowed it to become one of the fastest-growing insurance brokerages in the Maritimes. From Yarmouth to Halifax to Amherst to Moncton and Miramichi, the Stack family has amassed a sizeable list of specialties, including commercial, home, life, and auto insurance. This diversity is crucial, as competition in the industry has become fiercer.
“There are a lot of insurance providers in the marketplace, so obviously there is a lot of competition as well,” Michael says. “It used to be that you could have a single-location family insurance firm and compete with just about anyone, but these days, if you want to survive and offer competitive products and pricing from multiple providers, you have to grow to compete.”
In the past, Archway’s only competition was other independent brokerages and multinational insurance companies. However, insurance is no longer just the purview of local insurance salesmen. Recently, Archway has gone up against intense competition from another national service provider: the neighbourhood bank. Hindered by the mortgage industry and losing money from traditional services like checking fees and home loans, banks have started an aggressive move into the insurance game.
“In the past, banks would not even finance our acquisitions, because they didn’t think what we did had value,” Garry says. “But now they seem very interested in selling insurance.”
In response to new competition, the company is embarking on a rebranding marketing effort that will see all of its insurance offices consolidated under one name: Archway Insurance. The company is also making headway into new technology solutions that make the lives of its customers easier, such as the ability to provide online insurance quotes and binding.
Throughout the rebranding process, Gina has worked closely with Garry and Michael to ensure Archway’s spirit as an independent broker is not lost through new marketing strategies and the enhanced use of technology to serve clients. With these measures in place, it’s clear that Archway is setting itself up for the long haul.
“At Archway Insurance, we are committed to giving the best-possible insurance experience to each of our clients,” Gina says. “We accomplish this with solid insurance products, expert advice, and professional service, offered locally at an affordable cost.”
Harnessing the company’s exceptional customer service and Archway’s role as a pivotal aspect of the community is an important part of the company’s values. Each time Archway acquires a new firm, the acquired offices remain open so that the local community can continue to benefit from its presence.
“We’re deeply embedded in the community in a way that no multinational insurance firm or bank can be,” Michael says. “That’s what set brokers apart.”
Archway also owes a debt to its employees, none of whom have ever left the firm for another local job. The Stacks say that the firm’s nearly 40 employees have the same loyalty and dedication to their customers as the family does.
“No one can offer more of a community-focused service than us,” Garry says. “We love our community, and we love our customers. We’re dedicated to serving them.”