Platt Insurance Anticipates Growth With New Office

WARREN, Ohio – A new Howland Township location will allow Platt Insurance to add positions and continue its growth, owner and president Ellie Platt said.

Business associates, family and friends joined Platt and her employees for a ribbon cutting and open house Thursday at the insurance agency offices at 389 Niles-Cortland Road NE. Platt Insurance acquired the building in June 2021 and moved in May after about $350,000 in renovations to the property.

“We’ve been in Howland for several years now but it was always a dream and a vision of mine to consolidate all of our locations into one,” Platt said. The company consolidated four existing locations into the new site but is maintaining its Sebring office.

Platt Insurance offers an array of home, auto, business and life insurance products, including a specialization in farm insurance. “Everyone in our agency is farm-certified,” Platt said.

The new location also will help facilitate growth. Business grew by 20% after Platt shifted two years ago from being a captive Nationwide agency to offering products from multiple carriers.

The shift reflects a national trend, reported Limra, an insurance industry research firm. In 1998, affiliated producers outnumbered independent producers 195,000 to 119,000. As of 2018, about 60% of the approximately 332,000 licensed life insurance sales professionals were independent producers.

Being able to offer products from multiple carriers for personal and business lines allows Platt Insurance to offer better services to its clients, Platt said.

“We now have some options. If their rates change, we can look at other carriers,” she said.

Platt founded the company 11 years ago, following a decade in the nonprofit sector after she graduated from college.

“One day I felt like I wanted to own my own business, so I took a leap of faith,” she recalled. “I left my job, got an insurance license and started an insurance agency.” The company began with just one other employee and now has a staff of 10, with plans to add three positions over the next 18 months.

Among the major issues customers face is inflation, she said. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, rising materials prices have inflated replacement costs so agents spend a lot of time proactively reaching out to clients to update replacement values.

The insurance agency also focuses on digital tools and social media presence, she said.

“We like to be face-to-face with our clients but we like to give them options. So having a digital presence is really important to us,” she said. Clients can go online for service or to request a quote, for example.

The office consolidation brings the agency’s team together, Platt said.

“We’re providing better service because it’s helping us grow and learn from each other from one another,” she said.

To help fund the office consolidation, Middlefield Bank in Cortland and Valley Partners in Liberty Township collaborated to provide financing though the U.S. Small Business Administration 504 loan program that Valley Partners manages.

While Valley Partners is often known for providing financing for industrial projects, loans to businesses like Platt Insurance represent about a third of its lending, said Teresa Miller, executive director.

“We do small business lending across the board,” she said.

“We were excited to be part of the project,” said Matthew Bellin, Middlefield senior vice president/commercial lending. “That’s our bread and butter. We love to help people in our backyard so were excited when Ellie called.”

In addition to its work on the SBA loan, Valley Partners used one of its smaller revolving loan funds when the renovation ran into cost overruns, Miller said. An existing loan can be “cumbersome” to modify later.

“So it was great that we could give her an additional loan for that,” she said.

Joining Platt and her employees at the ribbon cutting was Trumbull County Commissioner Frank Fuda. Platt Insurance’s expansion comes amid other development at and around the Eastwood Mall Complex as well as various county infrastructure projects, Fuda said.

“There are so many good things happening,” he said. “This is the best shape the county has been in years.”

Among Platt’s friends who were on hand for the event was Lisa Resnick, founder and president of Dandelion-Inc. and Dandelion Properties in Canfield.

“This is absolutely phenomenal. I’m so proud of her,” Resnick said.

Pictured at top: Ellie Platt, owner and president of Platt Insurance.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.