Spokane Journal of Business

Financial concern opens here

Missoula-based Payne attracts industry veterans from other companies here

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Payne Financial Group Inc., a Missoula, Mont.-based insurance and financial services agency, quietly has opened a Spokane office and hired some veteran agents from other agencies offices here.

Payne opened its Spokane office about three months ago, but says its still a couple of weeks away from formally announcing its presence here. Its Spokane office was expected to move this week from a temporary space at 505 W. Riverside to a 1,650-square-foot space at 827 W. First, across from the Davenport Hotel, says Payne Managing Executive Ed Heine. Its staffed by agents Scott McGann and Eddie Eugenio, who both recently left the Spokane office of Marsh Inc., a New York City-based insurance services firm, and account manager Debbie Van Slyke, an 11-year veteran of the Spokane branch of Safeco Corp. In 2000, Payne recruited another Marsh employee here, Bill Wrigglesworth, who now is Paynes president and CEO. Last February, Payne hired to be its director of production David Werme, whod worked out of the Spokane branch of Safeco. Both men now work out of Paynes Missoula office.

Heine, in Missoula, says the agency plans to continue to expand its presence here by building its client base and hiring more agents.

We see Spokane as a natural expansion for us, Heine says, because the demographics are very compelling. and we feel its a natural fit for our overall business plan.

Payne formed about two years ago when three different agencies, each of which the Montana-based risk-management firm Terry Payne & Co. owned in part, combined. It now has about 200 employees in 14 offices across Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. It had commission revenue of $18 million in 2001 and expects this years revenue to be about $20 million, Heine says. Payne offers personal and commercial insurance, employee-benefits products, and financial-planning services. It also offers risk-management consulting services to specific industries.

Hiring Wrigglesworth, a former managing partner with Marsh, was a coup for Payne, Heine says. With more than 25 years of insurance experience at one of Spokanes top-producing agencies, he will be vital to Paynes growth here, Heine says.

Bill is the heart and soul of our effort in the Spokane area, he says. Hes the platform for relationships and has knowledge of the market.

Wrigglesworth spent most of 2001 marrying the cultures of Paynes three prior companiesMontana International Insurance Inc., Hoiness Labar Insurance Inc., and the retail division of Terry Payne & Co.into one and developing a sense of unity among employees, Heine says.

McGann and Eugenio worked for Marsh for nine and six years, respectively, Heine says.

Werme is in charge of coordinating all sales activity across the agency and is responsible for recruitment and professional development of agents.

Opening the office here was a strategic move toward expanding the agency, Heine says, not just a byproduct of having employees who are familiar with the area.

This is not Bill once worked in Spokane and now were going to go open an office there, Heine says. We recognize all the good things that happen in a market like Spokanes.

  • Megan Cooley

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