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Western Financial completes acquisition of Falkins Insurance

Falkins Insurance, which first opened its doors in 1897 in Fort Steele, is now Western Financial Group. - Sally MacDonald photo
Falkins Insurance, which first opened its doors in 1897 in Fort Steele, is now Western Financial Group.
— image credit: Sally MacDonald photo

With more than a century's history in the region, Falkins Insurance is now part of Western Financial Group.

Western announced on Monday, Jan. 6 that it had completed acquisition of Falkins, which is the largest general insurance brokerage in the Kootenays.

The final purchase comes after the two companies entered into a strategic partnership in May 2005, when Western acquired a 20 per cent ownership stake in Falkins. That portion was increased to 40 per cent in August 2010.

Western, which is the largest Canadian-owned network of insurance brokerages in Canada, completed full ownership of Falkins on Dec. 31, 2013, covering all 11 of Falkins branches and more than 100 employees who will remain in their positions.

Western Financial first became known to many in Cranbrook in August 2012 when it purchased the naming rights to what was then the Cranbrook Rec Plex. The home of the Kootenay Ice has been known as Western Financial Place ever since.

Western also served as the title sponsor for the inaugural Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo last September.

Pete Stefano, senior vice president, corporate with Falkins, said that Western’s community involvement appealed to Falkins.

“Their values are similar to ours. They are very strong community supporters,” said Stefano. “That’s important to us and important to our customers. The way that they operate is similar so it was a really good marriage that way. The deal just made sense.”

Stefano said that Falkins customers will see a smooth transition to Western.

“I don’t think customers will notice a difference. Western Financial is known for its great customer service, and I think the same could be said for Falkins. So customers are going to have more choice, but at the end of the day they are going to have the same great people serving them,” he said.

Falkins Insurance first opened its doors in 1897 in Fort Steele, relocating to Cranbrook in the early 1900s. It now operates 11 branches throughout the Kootenays, from Kaslo to Elkford to Golden.

Western Financial Group serves more than 790,000 customers in western Canada. It was founded in 1996 and is based out of High River, Alberta. Western has more than 160 locations and affiliates and about 1,800 employees.

“We are thrilled to have finalized our ownership position and officially welcome the Falkins team to the growing Western Financial Group of companies,” said Jeff Burke, president and CEO of Western Financial Group. “This acquisition is a major milestone in Western’s history and allows us to increase our presence in British Columbia, offering more choice to our existing and potential customers.”

Stefano said Western will bring new options to Falkins customers.

“Western’s large network provides our customers with more options, and their commitment to their values of truthfulness, fairness, value and loyalty has been a great marriage for Falkins. Through the acquisition, we’re now able to offer a wider selection of insurance products and banking services.”

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