The Target Markets Program Administrators Association excels in assembling carrier partners and related vendors to collaborate and learn from one another. Products are developed and partnerships are formed. Lisa Paul, president and CEO of Paul Hanson Partners (PHP), started the agency in 1993. “We’ve certainly worked the nuts and bolts of bootstrapping a program from zero to creating unique branding, name identification and industry expertise in a specific niche,” Paul says. “We are recognized by insurance company partners as being a solid underwriting performer.” The niche that Paul refers to is the transportation industry; PHP offers insurance products and services to the moving and storage, last mile, and logistics industries through its Movers Choice and BizChoice programs. They provide coverage for auto liability, physical damage, cargo and warehouse legal liability, property, crime, workers’ compensation and accident & health. The PHP website cites 92% of its customers stay with it for more than 10 years.
“PHP does best with sticking to our knitting,” says Paul. “We serve the industry in the transportation, storage, and logistics space because we operationally understand our customers. The key to being good retailers and program administrators is understanding not only the risk component of our customers’ business but also the operational issues our clients face daily. We operate PHP under the premise that the road to success is through the success of our customers and being intimately involved in understanding their operational issues.”
A key operational issue in the insurance and transportation industries is staying ahead of the technology game in order to serve clients most efficiently. “The last few years we have really focused on using technology,” Paul says. “My son Curtis joined PHP three years ago as the Operations Manager. He wanted actionable dashboards and technologies to help him better understand our business model and manage it more efficiently. Curtis began working with Vantage Agora (VA) to create the dashboards he needed to operate effectively at PHP.” Vantage Agora began working in the insurance space in 2006. “We had a friend in the market who came to us with questions about solutions in the space,” says Sudhir Achar, Vantage Agora CEO and co-founder. “He was looking for people who could bring efficiency and visibility to his business. He gave us an opportunity to build a successful operating practice within the insurance industry.”
PHP used remote staffing in China for 12 years, however Curtis Paul was impressed with the fresh approach to technology that Vantage Agora added to remote staffing and began discussions.
“We thought the insurance industry would be more cutting edge, digitized, and tech savvy,” says Achar, whose prior background was mainly in the manufacturing sector. “We established a holding company, some lines of business and built a team in the U.S. By 2012 we had achieved recognition and brand awareness in the insurance industry.” Achar’s business partner, Harsha Chaturvedi, came from the technology space. “There’s a big need for technological advantages to bring efficiency,” says Achar. “MGAs need an insurance carrier and agency management system that provides a clear dashboard on daily operations. This is what Paul needed for PHP and what VA delivers in technology to their clients. About five years back we started building a technology platform that evolved into our patent-pending Business Operating System, OX Zion. “Businesses use multiple systems. They have an ERP system, an agency management system, and finance and sales platforms. OX Zion sits on top of all of these. We ask business owners: ‘What would you like to see? How much money have you made? How much money do you owe? What are your assets? Which departments are in compliance? Who’s your top sales performer?’ All of this is shown visually so they can get complete visibility and control of their operations. We obtain data and automate it using standard symbology, like the traffic light. If everything is Green, look for new business, spend time with family or go golfing. If things are Yellow, be careful and look at what’s going on. If they are Red, get back to the office and get things fixed. As opposed to other vendors in the market who just throw in warm bodies, we bring technology and automation to our clients.”
Our business operating system, OX Zion, formerly Club VA, was renamed to reflect Vantage Agora’s true mission of delivering operational excellence—doing more with what you have. By implementing OX Zion, PHP improved their ability to be an operational solution specialist to their clients and added this service to its affiliate company, Paul Hanson Partners International (PHPI), which was founded in 2007 to provide solutions to PHP’s clients.
“We’ve had an explosion in clients and partners interested in using the technologies that we developed with Vantage Agora,” explains Paul. “We have navigated with Vantage Agora both Movers’ Choice online and Biz Choice online, which will be used by over 2,000 moving companies in the U.S. and 6,000 small trucking companies. It’s been a significant value proposition to us that has enabled our transportation program administration operation to grow substantially.”
“We met PHP at Target Markets four years ago,” Achar says. “Lisa Paul is one of our biggest cheerleaders and has brought us large opportunities that opened up other doors in the logistics industry, using the new technologies that Curtis Paul recognized.”
PHPI and Vantage Agora look to work with MGAs and retail insurance brokers who want to use these new technologies. “We look for companies to give us the opportunity to sit down with them because we can bring them efficiency with our partnership,” says Achar. “CEOs need to understand what’s going on. It’s like a website. You create a website and expect the traffic to go up. It won’t go up unless you work with it. Once you work with us, we guarantee you’ll have total visibility and data in front of executives to make informed decisions.” The partnership between Paul Hanson Partners, Paul Hanson Partners International, and Vantage Agora is just one success story made possible by Target Markets.