Some business success stories are all about growth, and some are about reputation. Still others are about creating a family legacy, or about seeing a vision come to life. For Jim Ball and his team at Reliance Insurance, it’s about all of that and more.
“I started at Hastings and Boundary in a little hole-inthe-wall office, 500 square feet, in 1985,” he said. “We’re still on Hastings – about 13 blocks east – but now we have our own building, 16,000 square feet, and more than 100 employees.”
The general insurance agency provides a spectrum of insurance products, including commercial insurance for a variety of businesses in the region; and home, automobile, and marine insurance.
The company has grown in part through building a rocksolid reputation for customer care, integrity and quality, but also through careful and strategic expansion.
“We’ve made 17 acquisitions over the years. I bought this building and we all came together here. This was always my dream, to have everyone under one roof.”
Ball calls Reliance a family business, and he means that in more ways than one – his own son and daughter are key figures in the company, but the sense of family extends to the whole team.
“We like to consider everyone who works here as part of the family. Many of our employees have been with us for well over 10 years, bringing a wealth of experience to our clients,” he said. “When you all work together for the same goal, with the same vision for what your company is about, that’s family. It’s important to me that Reliance continues to be a family business.”
Ball notes that the insurance industry, like so many other fields, is fast evolving to keep pace with technology and customer needs.
“This is the future,” he said. “E-commerce has and will change business in many ways and you have to always be changing to stay ahead of the curve.”
Regardless of the technology, Ball says it will always come down to people, on both sides of the desk – customer and staff.
“We have a team with a lot of knowledge and expertise, a wonderful group of people,” he said. “And our job is to take care of the customer, every time.”
When a situation occurs that requires an insurance claim – be it a flood or a house fire – the most important thing is to be able to give a customer peace of mind.
“When something happens, we want to be able to say: don’t worry, you’re covered,” he said. “Our motto is Protection Beyond Insurance®, and that sums it up.”
He says educating people about insurance is also important, as it’s something many people don’t think about until they need it. “We help people understand that insurance is really risk management – looking at ways to minimize your risk,” he said. “There are things you can’t insure against, like loss of reputation, but we may be able to educate and guide people to other resources that can help.”
Reliance has expansion operations in Ontario and Quebec, but the heart of the business is here in Burnaby – and they plan to keep it that way.
“This is a great community and we love it here,” he said. “The neighbourhood is wonderful, it’s central and many of our customers are Burnaby residents. This is our home for a long time to come.”
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