New ownership comes to Causeway Insurance

Sam Odrowski

New local ownership, new opportunities, and new options for customers recently has come to Causeway Insurance here.
New owner/operator of the insurance brokerage, John Homer, who purchased it on Nov. 2 from Mario Galluzzo, recently teamed up with another independent broker, StoneRidge Insurance, located in southern Ontario.
“This partnership is very much a good thing for everybody,” Homer said.
“We’re now bringing on eight more [insurance] companies that we didn’t have before.”
The industry has changed rapidly in the last decade and most recently, rates have been affected greatly by catastrophic losses due to weather.
With more companies for clients to choose from, Causeway Insurance can ensure rates don’t go up unexpectedly due to large losses like the Fort McMurray wildfires or floods of Calgary in 2013.
“To have more options is definitely a good thing,” Homer lauded.
“One of the things that I’m proud of is when we had some rates go sideways . . . we moved 600-650 clients from one company to the next and managed to not only get rid of the rate increase they were going to get hit with but actually saved many of them anywhere from five-20 percent.
“It’s one of the reasons why I want to stay independently owned, which we have in this deal,” he added.
“At the end of the day, my job is to make sure there is still choice left in the industry.”
The insurance industry has become more global in the last three-five years. Homer also said a lot of companies now have shifted their operations online, which doesn’t work in small communities like Fort Frances.
“Here in the north, that doesn’t work,” he stressed. “People want to be able to come in our brick-and-mortar door and they want to be able to yell at me if they’re rates went up 20 percent.
“They want to be able to discuss with me a claim,” he added. “They don’t want to talk to somebody at a call centre down in southern Ontario that they’ve never met, that really doesn’t care about them, that treats them like a number.
“That’s one of the things that makes us really good, too, is we know everybody who walks through our door.”
Causeway provides an array of insurance services, including home, auto, recreation, marine, farm, and commercial.
Homer had a celebratory launch party at the Flint House here on Nov. 3 to commemorate the new ownership of Causeway Insurance and had attendees travel there from as far as Toronto.
“I was super pleased with the turnout of it. We had approximately 75 people,” he noted.
“The Flint House did an excellent job.”
Duane Cridland, the restaurant’s owner/operator, has been Homer’s mentor since his introduction into the insurance industry back when he started a job at Gillons’ in 2007.
“He [Cridland] was very instrumental in giving me advice to make this deal happen based on his expertise and his knowledge of the industry,” Homer explained.
“So it was very important for me that the party be held there at his restaurant.”
Local MPP Greg Rickford attended the launch party, as well, and celebrated the new local ownership.
Homer, meanwhile, always has had an entrepreneurial spirit and been drawn to the business world.
“I’ve wanted to own a business since I was probably six years old,” he noted.
Homer now looks forward to using his position as a business owner to benefit the community at large.
“The reason I wanted to own an insurance brokerage and own a business is to be able to give back to the community,” he remarked.
“To be a place where people want to work, and to hire good staff and be able to put food on family’s tables within a job.
“And as an owner of a business, I now have a greater capacity to do that.
“I love Fort Frances, you would never see me move from here now,” Homer added.
“My kids love it, my family loves it, we’re embedded here.”
In addition to the Fort Frances office, Causeway Insurance has offices in Thunder Bay, Rainy River, Kenora, and Mississauga.
In 2015, there only was three brokers at the office here but by the new year, Homer plans to up that number to 10.
“The one thing I don’t want is for my customer service to slip,” he stressed.
Joanne Bliss, a registered insurance broker at Causeway Insurance, said the brokerage’s employees have become a very strong team and are prepared for any challenges they may face.
“We’re certainly here to support him,” she remarked. “He’s got a good staff that are right behind him and ready to support him every step of the way.”
In addition to his staff, Homer is extremely grateful to his family for all the support they’ve shown throughout the transition to ownership.
“I couldn’t have got through this deal without my wife and kids,” he lauded.