Gateway to the South

Lockton's office in Memphis signals the growth strategy for the insurance, risk management, and employee benefits specialist.

Lockton associates in the Memphis Team: Front Row, Left-Right: Cindy Winek, account manager; and Ben Seward, account executive. Middle Row, Left-Right: Teresa Sheppard, account manager; Vince Gaffigan, CID manager; Kevin Hunter, producer; and John Vargas, EB manager. Back Row, Left-Right: Joe Lammel, producer; Matt Lammel, account executive; Bob Reiff, COO; and Pam Kail, account Executive.

photographs by Wayne Crook

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St. Louis’ Gateway Arch may be America’s portal to the West, but for one American insurance giant, Memphis is the gateway to the South.

The St. Louis Series of Lockton Companies expanded into Memphis in 2011 and has been aggressively adding to its staff while readying itself for further expansion in the region.

“The Mid-South region offers a lot of growth potential,” says Bob Reiff, Chief Operating Officer for Lockton’s Memphis and St. Louis operations, which are sister offices. “We feel the market is underpenetrated for Lockton. Our teams have no boundaries, and it’s very much a relationship business.

“In Memphis our expectation is that initially a great portion of our revenue will come from the Memphis marketplace, but it will also provide us with an opportunity to reach into other markets and still have more of a local service center,” Reiff continues.

“What we’ve been doing is working with clients and prospects, assisting them in making decisions. The implementation phase [for healthcare reform] is through 2014, so it has been very good for our business in relation to growth.” – Bob Reiff

Specifically, Reiff mentions Memphis’ immediate neighbors Little Rock, Nashville, Birmingham, and Jackson, Mississippi. Currently Lockton operates 28 offices in the United States, the nearest of which, outside of St. Louis, are in Dallas and Atlanta.

Reiff says the company is still determining which Southern city will be next to open an office.

Lockton first entered the Memphis market on June 26, 2011, and currently employs three producers and 10 associates. The office is led by W. Joseph Lammel, executive vice president and a veteran of the Memphis commercial insurance industry, having spent more than three decades with Marsh. Kevin Hunter joined Lockton in August 2012 as a risk management advisor and producer.

The company’s newest hires include Jennifer Maddux, account executive in employee benefits; human resources consultant Christine Ferris; Sarah Rossetti, account manager in employee benefits; Bethany Greene, associate account manager in employee benefits; and employee benefits consultant and producer Ashley Pace.

Employee benefits is only one area of Lockton’s offerings, which include property/casualty insurance, a retirement practice which is primarily 401(k) plans, a compensation consulting practice, and an executive benefits practice.

But the recent emphasis on employee benefits isn’t coincidental. Employers are slowly digging themselves out of financial distress, reassessing their benefits needs, and, in some cases, expanding their work forces.

“Especially when businesses are under a lot of financial stress and strain, that’s when insurance-buying practices are in need of review, and with healthcare reform, there’s a lot of questions that employers need answered on the benefits side,” Reiff says.

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