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2019 Business of the Year: Clark Insurance

Published Monday May 13, 2019

Author Judi Currie

2019 Business of the Year: Clark Insurance

Business NH Magazine and the NH Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives have celebrated the NH Businesses of the Year and Business Leader of the Year for 25 years. Awards are given to one Business Leader and 10 NH companies, in specific categories. Congratulations to our Business of the Year in Financial Services/Insurance.

During the past 12 years, this Portland, Maine-based insurance firm has made its mark in NH, not only growing its market share, but by being keenly involved in the community. Clark Insurance in Manchester accounts for around 10 percent of the workforce of this 88-year old insurance company, which is 100 percent employee owned through an employee stock ownership program (ESOP).

The success of the agency can be traced to how it empowers its employees, says Bret Cote, vice president and sales manager for NH and Massachusetts. “Everyone has a vested interest in the success of the organization. It really breeds teamwork,” he says. “Salespeople have a competitive nature so being in an ESOP helps them understand the
bigger picture.”

As a full-service agency providing personal lines, bonding, health and business insurance, the landscape is always changing.

Cote says the firm works proactively to keep abreast of the constantly changing health insurance arena for its clients.

Among the pressing issues facing businesses that the firm addresses is cyber-liability. “Businesses are being attacked in ways they never were before,” Cote says. Even small businesses are being target in ransom schemes.

Cote says the foundation of Clark’s culture is community. The company donated more than $60,000 to NH organizations in 2017 and 2018, which doesn’t include the volunteer hours given by the agency’s employees, serving in leadership roles on boards and committees.

As board president for Camp Allen, a camp for individuals with disabilities in Bedford, Cote co-chairs the Camp Allen Classic, helping to raise $25,000 annually. He says of the awards ceremony following the camper competition, it is impossible not to be deeply moved.

The agency focuses its give-back efforts on food insecurity, shelter, education and wellness and asks new employees to identify how they want to give back. “Having that philanthropic strategy is motivating to the staff.”

Cote says when they hire an employee from a competitor, the person is often surprised by the culture and commitment to community. “Once they are here and they see it and start to feel it, the responses are pretty cool. They say, ‘I had no idea an agency could be run like this.’”

Join us for the Business of the Year and Business Leader of the Year awards luncheon on May 30th. Register here. The registration fee of $65 per person, or $600 for tables of ten, includes luncheon. A portion of the proceeds benefits the NH Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.

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