BRONZE Best Agency to Work For – Youth Movement Powers Firm’s Growth, Energy
There are no worries about who will take over at Kulchin Ross Insurance Services LLC when the agency principals decide to hang it up.
The agency, which has grown from a handful of employees to more than 30 employees since starting out five years ago, is in the midst of a youth movement.
“I really believe our biggest strength is in our youth,” said Derek Ross, president of the agency, who along with his partner, Bill Kulchin, has been actively working to bring young people into the insurance business. “Overall, I think it’s one of the most contagious things to do is to bring in new energy. And I think it’s been very effective.”
Energy and being progressive were chief among the observations made by employees who voted the Tarzana, Calif.-based firm as Insurance Journal’s Best Agency to Work For in the West region. The firm took home the Bronze Award.
The agency has a pair of 16- and 17-year-old interns, and several 18- to 20-year-olds who are coming up in the business. The young staff are doing commission entries, preparing for licensing exams, as well as rating.
The firm has its budding raters situated in a Rating Cube, a converted open office with seating and chalkboard walls for flare. Carriers are sending experts to teach the youngsters to rate small business and personal lines.
“All the insurance carriers are so supportive of this,” Ross said.
The firm, which is part of the ISU network, reports more than $5 million in revenue, and beside general insurance, it also specializes in apparel, cosmetology and insuring personal trainers.
While most of the growth has been organic, it acquired Fred Glaser Insurance services in Van Nuys, a firm of roughly a dozen, in September 2015.
One employee commented on what it was like to be purchased by Kulchin Ross.
“We were bought out by Kulchin Ross,” the employee wrote. “I’ve heard of nightmare mergers and everyone was fired after, but they went the extra mile to show everyone how important each person is and how everyone mattered. Gender and age issues most places face don’t happen here. Before, we’d all just go to work, but because of our social life as an office and community involvement, we feel like we’re all a part of something bigger.”
Performance reviews were what prompted praise from another employee.
“I rated the performance/salary as excellent since at Kulchin Ross since they provided me with above minimum wage when starting,” the employee wrote. “Our boss is always communicating with us to make sure that everything is going well. Our company has many gatherings outside of work, it is like a family. We do community services events together.”
Others liked that the firm is innovative and isn’t afraid to tackle new lines of business.
“We have created several programs that specialize in new and exploding industries, such as marijuana insurance, various kinds daycare insurance, micro-needling insurance,” the employee wrote. “We have access to 99 percent of the carriers. We are part of the ISU network so there isn’t anything we can’t insure.”
Ross has pushed the youth movement at the firm because he got in to the industry young, when he was age 16 doing back office work. Ross also has been involved with InVEST, a national program that educates high school and community college students on insurance, financial services and risk management topics, and encourages them to pursue careers in insurance.
The Kulchin Ross office isn’t just a coop of spring chickens. The firm has an 80-year-old employee, and several employees in their 70s and 60s.
“It’s really created a beautifully diverse environment in our office,” Ross said.