Venerable Visalia company takes on a new name

Buckman-Mitchell Inc. will now be known as Gallagher after global brokerage completes its acquisition

VISALIA – A year and a half after announcing its acquisition, Buckman-Mitchell Insurance is now officially named Gallagher.

Arthur J. Gallagher and Co., one of the world’s largest insurance brokerage firms, began the process to acquire Buckman-Mitchell Inc., one of the Valley’s oldest insurance agencies, in November 2018 and announced the transition will be complete in the coming months.

While some have voiced their concern that Visalia is losing a foundational company in local commerce and charitable contributions, the company argues that they haven’t lost anything but rather have gained access to a world of resources and expertise.

“For the most part we look the same,” said Linda Loflin, Gallagher’s area president and branch manager for its property and casualty division. “We are the same people but Gallagher has brought a different approach. They bring research and analytics that allow us to drive down the cost of premiums for our customers.”

Loflin said 71 of 80 employees were retained by Gallagher when it began the merger and about 80% of those have remained through the transition to Gallagher. Loflin said there were many similarities between the companies. Both are family-owned businesses founded in the early 20th century with an office culture based on strong values. Buckman-Mitchell was founded by C.T. Buckman and Hyman Mitchell in 1916. The firm today is a retail property/casualty and employee benefits agency and consultant specializing in commercial and agribusiness. BMI also provides personal home, auto, watercraft and recreational vehicle insurance, and individual life and health insurance.

Arthur J. Gallagher’s founder opened his family-run agency in Chicago in 1927 and now negotiates and places nearly all lines of property and casualty insurance, employer-provided health and welfare insurance and retirement solutions for clients of all sizes.

“It was Gallagher’s culture that attracted us in the first place,” Loflin said.

As a testament to Gallagher’s commitment to ethics, Loflin noted that the company has been named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for nine consecutive years by the Ethisphere Institute, and thee only honoree in the insurance industry. The Institute is a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices that fuel corporate character, marketplace trust and business success.

JoeAnna Todd, Gallagher’s area president for benefit services in the central valley, said the company is not only committed to BMI’s values but also to the community of Visalia and greater Tulare County. Todd said overall community giving has increased since the merger by donating to many charitable organizations including the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Sequoias, FoodLink, Pro Youth HEART, Visalia Emergency Aid Council, Visalia YMCA, Family Services of Tulare County and Visalia Rescue Mission to name a few. Gallagher also has a program to match employee donations to the charities of their choosing and the Visalia office is now a partner in the Special Olympics through the merger.

Gallagher is continuing to provide scholarships to every Tulare County high school and to support the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation through a partnership that will donate over $100,000 to this worthwhile program. Along with raising more than $1.2 million over the past 20 years, Buckman-Mitchell, together with their insurance partners, has also donated over $100,000 to the AgVentures Learning Center and Ag Museum at the Heritage Complex.

Buckman-Mitchell’s specialization in commercial and agribusiness is one of the main policy products that drew Gallagher to the company. Loflin said Gallagher already had offices in Fresno and Hollister, Calif. when it acquired Visalia, but Buckman Mitchell was a leader in crop insurance.

“That was one of the areas where Gallagher was really interested in what we can bring to help their business,” Loflin said.

The merger has meant that Gallagher will be better positioned than ever to serve the expanding dynamic of regional businesses. Clients and employees new to Gallagher will benefit from the scale only an organization like Gallagher can provide, including greater market reach, a wealth of global expertise and access to new and evolving technologies dedicated to improving risk management strategies and solutions – all while maintaining its ties to the local community.

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