Falkins Insurance, the largest insurance brokerage in the Kootenays, including branches in Kaslo and Salmo, recently became part of Alberta-based Western Financial Group.
As part of the acquisition, all 11 Falkins branches and more than 100 employees became part of Western.
The Kaslo branch has four employees. It was formerly Kaslo Insurance Agency Ltd. and was purchased by Falkins in 1998.
“We were a little anxious about the change but it has been great being a part of Falkins,” said Kaslo branch leader Joan Murach, who began working there in 1994. “We are looking forward to the changes and new opportunities the change of ownership brings us.”
The Salmo branch was formerly John’s Insurance Agency. In 1998, John’s sold 50 per cent of the company to Falkins Insurance Group and on January 1, the Western Financial Group purchased the other 50 per cent from John’s.
All Falkins employees retained their positions, according to Eric Michalko, Western’s manager of public relations.
“They will continue to serve their communities as part of Western,” he said. “Moving forward customers will see a brand transition but exceptional customer service will remain unchanged.”
Western first began a partnership with Falkins in 2005 when it acquired a 20 per cent ownership stake.
Two years ago, the High River, Alta., company increased its stakeholder position to 40 per cent, and as of December 31 last year, acquired full partnership of the company.
“All Falkins employees have known for quite some time that Western was planning to acquire full ownership.” said Michalko.
The Falkins brokerage began selling insurance in Fort Steele in 1897. The company relocated to Cranbrook in the early 1900s and grew to become the largest general insurance company in the Kootenays, with other branches in Creston, Elkford, Fernie, Fruitvale, Golden, Kimberley, and Sparwood.
Western Financial Group was founded in 1996, employs about 1,800 people, and serves more than 790,000 customers in Western Canada from its 160 locations and affiliates.
— With files from the Trail Times