President lifts lid on flat structure and private equity backing
A new property and casualty insurance agency aims to deliver comprehensive and high-touch insurance services with “the technology of tomorrow.”
Launched in January 2024, Twain Insurance Agency is the fruit of a partnership between a group of producers led by John Lawrence, Tom Davis, and Griffin Wilson and private equity firm Twain Capital.
Lawrence (pictured), who heads up the Mississippi-based agency as president, spoke to Insurance Business about the venture.
“We always thought it would be a logical step for us,” he said.
Twain Insurance will focus on middle-market businesses, specializing in real estate, construction (including surety), energy, healthcare, waste, financial, distribution, manufacturing, non-profit, and education.
Returning to a ‘client-focused’ service ethos
Before starting Twain Insurance, the trio helped establish the mid-Atlantic office for Commercial Insurance Associates (CIA), an independent P&C brokerage with offices in Tennessee, Maryland, and South Carolina.
According to Lawrence, their vision for a new insurance agency – one that returned to the “culture of client-focused service” – aligned with that of Twain Capital’s.
“We wanted to maintain a boutique, high-touch feel with our clients,” he said. “They know our families, we know theirs, they call us and can get us on the phone immediately.”
But Lawrence also acknowledged that insurance could no longer fall behind the changing times. He envisioned Twain Insurance being driven by both cutting-edge technology and client relationships.
“We know that times are changing with all the different technology that’s coming, and we want to make sure that we are adapting,” Lawrence said.
“Insurance has been one of the last movers on the technology front, but it is a move that will happen, a shift to be more technology-driven. We want to make sure that we are doing that to be able to help our clients.”
Producer-led insurance agency
Another feature that makes Twain Insurance stand out in the market is its flat organizational structure. The agency aims to empower its producers by eschewing the traditional corporate hierarchy.
Lawrence observed that some organizations had too many layers of middle management that were hampering efficiency and performance, instead of boosting it.
“You got to hear about things three or four different times from a boss, then from a boss’s boss,” he said.
“Our viewpoint has always been that if you put quality people into the correct positions, they do not need those additional layers of management to succeed. We can use those additional resources to provide more services to our clients.”
Delivering more value to the middle-market segment is at the heart of Twain Insurance, Lawrence said.
“Middle to large-middle market is our niche, and we feel it’s a little bit underserved in the marketplace right now,” he said. “It’s a sweet spot where we can really excel, where people do want the high-touch service and professionalism of a large insurance program, but they want the service model of a smaller agency.”
What’s next for Twain Insurance Agency?
Twain Insurance has hit the ground running with an extensive list of clients and carrier relationships across the country.
Over the next few months, the team will focus on crafting a growth framework, attracting additional producers, and building its book of business with clients and carriers.
“It’s been a very fun and exciting first few weeks,” Lawrence said. “We look to growing not only organically, but we are also talking to additional producers in the marketplace that are intrigued by the flat hierarchy that we are going for and maybe disillusioned with their current situation and relationships in the marketplace.”
The agency is also looking to branch out from its existing bases in Maryland, Virginia, DC, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.
“We definitely are looking to expand, but we’re looking for the right people,” Lawrence said. “The two areas we look to grow out are the DMV (District of Maryland, Maryland and Virginia) area as well as Mississippi. But I think our initial goal is [to get] the right person, regardless of where they sit. That’s more important to us.”
Lawrence also addressed the partnership with Twain Capital. He said that where most private equity firms see a time horizon for their return on investment between five to seven years, Twain Capital supports Twain Insurance’s longer-term ambitions.
“Twain Capital wants to be the antithesis. They are looking for more of a longer, maybe 10-to-15-year horizon for their portfolio companies, so it’s a much different experience,” Lawrence said.
“We did not want private equity that was just looking at the bottom line at all points. We want to build something sustainable for a number of years. Twain is fully supportive of that vision because it’s a mutual vision.”
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