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Insurance broker continues buying up Buffalo area agencies

A California-based insurance brokerage that has been gobbling up smaller agencies across the country acquired three related Buffalo-area firms to add to its growing Western New York presence.

Confie Seguros of Huntington Beach, Calif., bought auto insurance brokerages Able Insurance Agency, Linda’s Able Insurance and Becker-Able Agency Inc. Able Insurance has operated for over a decade, while Linda’s Able started in 1980 and Becker-Able was founded in 1993. The three former owners will remain with Confie.

Founded in 2008 to consolidate insurance agencies, and backed by private-equity firm ABRY Partners, Confie specializes in personal and small business insurance policies, and focuses on the needs of Hispanic clients. The firm has acquired nearly 90 businesses in the past seven years, including 15 in the Buffalo metropolitan area, where executives say it will pursue more deals.

“We’re very bullish about the robust and growing pipeline of potential acquisitions that includes many quality businesses,” Confie CEO Valeria Rico said in a press release. “We are in active discussions with those companies, while at the same time working to successfully integrate these new businesses into the Confie organization.”

Already, it has five to seven more acquisitions pending in the area by the end of the year, including two that are already under letters of intent. “We are committed to the Western New York region. We’ve been looking at this market for a long time, and we have a track record,” said Confie founder and president Mordy Rothberg, in an interview.

Confie started its buying spree in Western New York just three years ago with its acquisition of Keller Group in early 2012. That was followed by West Seneca-based Potwora Agency and Coppola Insurance, Niagara Falls-based Cannello Agency, Lockport’s CW Baker Insurance Agency, Lewiston-based Lewiston Insurance Agency, DeFranco Insurance Agency of Niagara Falls, Bower Insurance in Lockport, AA Insurance Services of Lockport, the Insurance Market Agency Inc. in Tonawanda, Action Auto Insurance Agency Inc. in Cheektowaga and Bronkie Agency Inc. of Williamsville.

He said the region fits with the company’s strategy. The company, which doesn’t do business under the Confie name, generally uses various brands of acquired agencies, including Freeway Insurance and Keller Group in upstate and Western New York. And it often keeps management and employees, including the agency owners, making it appealing for small firms.

“It’s really fragmented. It’s really ripe for consolidation,” Rothberg said of Western New York. “And it’s a small community, and trust is really critical, and we’ve gained a lot of trust from people. We’re bullish about the economy coming back and we think there’s great opportunity for us to grow.”

The firm now has 660 retail locations in California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Washington, Oregon, New York, New Jersey, Nevada, Illinois, Alabama, Kansas, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Missouri, Louisiana, and Indiana, with a growing presence in Georgia, Virginia and North Carolina. Fifty-five of its offices are in New York.

The company currently posts about $350 million in revenues, but Rothberg said officials are expecting “double-digit” percentage growth in the next year just from internal customer growth, without acquisitions. Overall, he said, the company will double in size within three to five years.

“There’s a lot of opportunity that you get with scale and best practices, and fortunately, we have that given our national footprint,” he said. “It’s an advantage for the customer as well, because we have access to more markets, so we can provide better service and better products to our customers.”