El Paso-based Mt. Franklin Insurance has acquired the El Paso office of Meridian Insurance, creating the largest locally owned and independent insurance agency in El Paso.
Bill Carvajal and Shane Lipson, principals of Mt. Franklin Insurance, led the effort to acquire Meridian Insurance Services in El Paso for an undisclosed price. Meridian is a regional insurance broker with locations in New Mexico and Arizona that made the decision to exit the El Paso market.
“They did very well. Unfortunately, it just still lacked that local touch,” Carvajal said. “That’s what we’re going to bring back to those customers.”
Mt. Franklin Insurance purchased all of the rights to existing policies and clients from the Meridian office in El Paso. It is the company’s eighth acquisition since it was founded in 2010.
Carvajal and Lipson said they could not disclose details of the transaction between the companies as part of a non-disclosure agreement. Meridian’s leadership was not available for comment.
Carvajal and Lipson said the deal makes Mt. Franklin Insurance the largest locally owned and independent insurance agency in El Paso. The company offers commercial and personal insurance from locations in West, Central and East El Paso.
Lipson said the company focuses on providing insurance for smaller companies and mom-and-pop shops, which dominate the El Paso market. Its clients include L&J Café, CBJ Capital and Milliken Construction Inc.
“While big national companies are fighting over those big clients,” he said. “We are quite happy, comfortable and enjoy working with the mid-tier and smaller clients.”
The Meridian office at 1200 Golden Key Circle remains open and all of the employees have been retained, according to the company.
The acquisition puts the Meridian office back in the hands of El Paso owners. Meridian originated from an agency that Carvajal led before he started Mt. Franklin.
Carvajal began his career more than 30 years ago at his family’s Associated Insurance Agency, eventually taking over the company with his brother.
In 2001, Brown & Brown, a national brokerage, purchased AIA and hired Carvajal to run the El Paso office. When Carvajal decided to form Mt. Franklin, Brown & Brown sold the El Paso office to Meridian and left the market.
Carvajal was tasked with approaching locally owned JDW Insurance and Rogers & Belding to see if they would sell their business to Brown & Brown.
“I just knew that they would never sell in the amount of time that Brown & Brown wanted them to,“ Carvajal said.
In the end, the local insurance agencies were bought by other national brands. JDW Insurance was sold to Hub International in 2012 and Rogers & Belding sold to Wells Fargo in 2007.
Brown & Brown decided to leave the El Paso market in 2010, and its El Paso presence became two entities – Mt. Franklin Insurance and an El Paso office for Nevada-based Meridian Insurance Services.
Lipson said their future plans are to continue providing insurance to their customers and searching for growth.
“When opportunities are right,” Lipson said, “we will continue to make acquisitions.”
Email El Paso Inc. reporter Aaron Montes at email@example.com or call (915) 534-4422, ext. 105. Twitter: @aaronmontes91