Falkins Insurance, the largest insurance brokerage in the Kootenays, including branches in Fruitvale 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, including four people at the Main Street office in Fruitvale and two at the Main Street branch in Salmo.
The Fruitvale branch first opened its doors in 1954, and was purchased by John’s Insurance Agency in 1977, along with the Salmo office.
In 1998, John’s sold 50 per cent of the company to Falkins Insurance Group and on Jan. 1, the Western Financial Group purchased the other 50 per cent from John’s.
Both locations had its signage changed to Western Financial Group Jan. 9, and 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, AB, company increased its stakeholder position to 40 per cent, and as of Dec. 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 the East Kootenay gold rush town of 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 branches from Kaslo to Elkford to Golden.
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.