Published December 15, 2009
Volume 17, Number 12

New Leadership Team Steers BB&T-Tanner Insurance Toward More Growth        
Insurance Brokers Looking to Continue Home-Grown Success Story

BB&B-Tanner Insurance, whose staff is seen here, is the local division
of the nation’s seventh-largest insurance broker. Tanner Insurance was
originally founded in Pleasanton in 1982.

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

BB&T-Tanner Insurance is ready to grow again. The product of the 2008 purchase of Hacienda’s Tanner Insurance Brokers--then a unit of Union Bank of California--by Raleigh, N.C.-based BB&T Insurance Services, the Hacienda company has spent the past year settling into its new identity under a new leadership team.

“Now is the time to take what was already there and grow it to another level,” relates Mark Ruggles, who joined BB&T-Tanner as Area President this past May. “With the integration completed, we have a very strong core insurance footprint from which to grow.” 

Each of the two entities has traced an inspiring trajectory. Tanner Insurance Brokers is a home-grown success story. Started in Pleasanton by Steve Tanner in 1982, the company flourished, becoming one of the state’s largest full-service independent brokerages of property and casualty insurance. Its 100-person operation moved into Hacienda in 1998 and has since expanded into larger quarters. In 2003, it was acquired by UnionBanc Insurance Services, an amalgam of high-performing regional insurance brokers in Northern and Southern California. In April 2008, Union Bank sold the subsidiary to BB&T Insurance Services of Raleigh.

BB&T Insurance, the nation's seventh-largest insurance broker, started in 1922 as an adjunct to a company, Branch Banking and Trust, that dates back almost to the Civil War. Named after founder Alpheus Branch, a North Carolina merchant, the bank has an impressive history of prospering through bad times as well as good. In 1995, BB&T and Winston-Salem-based Southern National Corp., the state’s fifth-largest bank-holding company, engaged in a “merger of equals.” BB&T Corp. now operates more than 1,800 branches in 13 states and Washington, D.C.. 

The same conservative management approach that allowed the company to expand through acquisitions still prevails today, as its August purchase of Alabama’s failed Colonial BancGroup attests. “BB&T’s selection by the FDIC to take over Colonial speaks volumes about how well-run the bank is,” Ruggles notes. “It did not go to the extremes that other larger financial institutions did during the real estate bubble.” 

The insurance side boasts similar strengths, he continues. “We’re one of the longest-standing insurance brokers in the country. That kind of stability and longevity is getting more and more rare, and demonstrates our focus on long-term success rather than the short-term fix.” 

Having the Tanner brokerage under the corporate umbrella yields dividends on multiple fronts, fusing brainpower with best practices and clout. Customers benefit from consultative relationships and customized solutions. “Rather than fit our clients into a box, we reshape the box for our clients,” Ruggles says, noting that providing “the perfect client experience” is BB&T’s service mantra.

BB&T has an active corporate-wide philanthropic program, including the recently completed Lighthouse Project, which was based on the notion of shining a light on a strong community need and addressing it through service and in-kind contributions. Among the local recipients are the Alameda and Contra Costa food banks, Shepherd’s Gate and Open Heart Kitchen in Livermore, and Children's Hospital Oakland.

For more information, visit www.bbt.com.


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