Sometimes being successful boils down to nothing more than dogged determination, a solid work ethic and a dedication to excellence. That formula worked for Jack Lundgren and Thom and Val Young and, after 35 years, the result of all that hard work is a thriving insurance business. Lundgren & Young Insurance has been offering the best insurance products and service since Jack Lundgren hung out his shingle in 1983.
“Calling the company Jack Lundgren Insurance, we started with a desk, a phone, an empty file cabinet and no customers,” says founder Jack Lundgren.
He worked that phone, contacting previous customers to let them know he was in business and left handwritten notes throughout the neighbourhood introducing himself and offering his services.
“The goal was one new customer every day and it seemed to work, slow and steady,” he says.
Lundgren bought two brokerages in 1985 to expand his business and in 1988 he met Thom and Val Young through a mutual friend. The introduction was perfectly timed. The Youngs had just moved from Manitoba seeking new opportunities and had decided that Calgary was an ideal place to make their dreams come true.
“When we met Jack Lundgren there was synergy and opportunity to partner together to achieve great things,” says Thom Young, former owner of Lundgren & Young Insurance.
The two families became equal owners and worked together to grow their insurance business. In 1993, they made the union official by changing the name to Lundgren & Young Insurance, but the new moniker didn’t change the way the owners did business. Throughout the years they have continued to offer top-notch service for their commercial and personal customers and grow the company from a team of three to a staff of approximately 130 working in branch offices across Alberta.
Their philosophy of hard work, integrity and service is deeply engrained in the corporate culture at the firm. When Jack eventually retired in 2014 and the Youngs officially sold the business and handed the reins over to the next generation, the transition was seamless.
“The reward comes from watching what we made continue to be successful,” says Thom. “The real pride is seeing our children continue to be successful with the business model we set in motion so many years ago.”
Thom and Val’s son AJ and daughter Robyn bought the company and have continued to run it as Jack and their parents did for decades – attracting quality brokers and staff, offering the best coverage for customers and fostering the relationships on which L&Y was built. In so doing, they have almost doubled in size in the past five years to become one of the largest independent brokerage firms in Alberta.
And being independent is a source of pride at Lundgren & Young. Unlike many competitors that are owned or partially owned by an insurance company, L&Y is completely independent. Without an affiliation with any particular insurance company, L&Y brokers can focus solely on finding the best solutions for their customers.
“A broker’s job isn’t to make sure you have the lowest rate. A broker’s job is to ensure you have the best coverage to meet your needs. That’s what we do. We provide choice,” says Robyn Young.
Choice extends beyond what products to offer from which insurance company. Lundgren & Young offers choice of broker as well by celebrating the uniqueness of the individuals involved. L&Y has brokers of all ages and backgrounds and it offers service in at least 10 languages to make customers feel at ease. Brokers also aim to accommodate the personal preferences of customers to ensure the best possible partnership.
“It needs to be the right fit for the customer. Some people like to contact us through instant messenger or text or email, and others want to come into the office and sit down and have coffee and chat. We’re happy to be able to provide solutions to all those different types of people,” says Mark Senger, general manager of Lundgren & Young.
Since the beginning, the company has provided those solutions in a unique way. One of the key concepts for Jack, Thom and Val, and now for AJ and Robyn, is that of opportunity. Through the company’s independent producer model, the Youngs encourage their brokers to be independent entrepreneurs rather than staff. This model attracts experienced, motivated professionals looking for the opportunity to build something better for themselves. Many of their brokers are independent producers earning ownership by building their portfolio from within the L&Y framework. The result is hard-working brokers with skin in the game who are dedicated to the long-term satisfaction of their customers.
“Generally the broker you talk to today will be the broker you talk to 20 years from now because he has a vested interest,” says AJ Young. “Customers stick to relationships and individuals for quite a lot longer, which generally makes a happier customer.”
At the end of the day, happy customers is what the entire business is based upon. To better service their customers, the company recently renovated their Horton Road branch and head office and will be merging their largest two north Calgary branches into one larger space off of 16th Avenue NE this summer. Lundgren & Young is dedicated to making the insurance experience as pleasant as possible for customers by being accessible, knowledgeable and current. To stay current and knowledgeable, Robyn Young remains involved in the industry as past president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Alberta (IBAA), current vice president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada (IBAC) and as a director for the Centre for the Study of Insurance Operations (CSIO). She is also on the technology committee for IBAC and IBAA to ensure Lundgren & Young stays on top of developments and changes in the industry to better serve customers.
“This industry has done a lot for my family and it’s my opportunity to give back,” she says.
For 35 years, Lundgren & Young has been driven by the concept of family. The owners are family but they are also invested in the success of those who work for them and think of them as family too. And they have families within their company, with husband-and-wife teams and parents and their kids working together as brokers, further reinforcing the value of family. As the second generation continues to grow the company throughout the province, it will carry on those values and honour the hard work and vision of its founding families.
“Our founders laid down a pretty cool foundation,” says AJ. “If it weren’t for them creating this independent model and having us be able to pick up and learn from that and make it better, we wouldn’t be where we are.”
Where they are is a trusted, family-run, independent brokerage firm that puts customers first. And with AJ and Robyn Young at the helm, that’s where they intend to stay.