Western Financial Group announced last week that it has taken over ownership of Falkins Insurance Group Limited, the largest general insurance brokerage in the Kootenays. All 11 Falkins branches, including the Fernie, Sparwood, and Elkford locations, will become a part of Western Financial.
Falkins Insurance Group has been part of the Kootenays business community for 115 years. The brokerage first began selling insurance in the Gold Rush town of Fort Steele, British Columbia in 1897 and relocated to Cranbrook in the early 1900s. Falkikns sells personal, travel, auto, and commercial insurance, and operates its own claims service.
Western Financial first entered into a partnership with Falkins by acquiring a 20 per cent ownership stake in May 2005. It increased its ownership to 40 per cent in August 2010 with the opportunity for full ownership by December 31, 2013.
“We are thrilled to have finalized our ownership position and to officially welcome the Falkins team to the growing Western Financial Group of companies,” said Jeff Burke, president and CEO of Western Financial Group. “This acquisition is a major milestone in Western’s history and allows us to increase our presence in British Columbia, offering more choice to our existing and potential customers.”
Since first announcing the strategic partnership, Western has gradually increased its presence in the Kootenays by securing the naming rights for Western Financial Place, as well as serving as the title sponsor for the inaugural Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo in 2013.
“The transition over to Western is an exciting opportunity for both our staff and customers,” commented Pete Stefano, senior vice president, corporate with Falkins. “Western’s large network provides our customers with more options and their commitment to their values of truthfulness, fairness, value, and loyalty has been a great marriage for Falkins. Through the acquisition, we’re now able to offer a wider selection of insurance products and banking services.”
Although customers will see a transition in branding, all current Falkins employees will continue to serve their communities as part of Western.