(Courtesy of the Jacksonville Business Journal) – As they set out to establish Wellhouse Company, Rick Stein and his son, Richard Stein Jr., realized Jacksonville needed “a new, independent player” in the industry.
With just a few major insurance companies still headquartered in the city, the two saw room for a locally held insurance brokerage and risk management advisory firm to enter the market.
They started Wellhouse Co. in 2018, generally targeting middle-market businesses based in Jacksonville. Three years later, it has 150 clients ranging from entrepreneurs and small businesses to a public company. It also works with private clients to insure their assets.
Rick Stein’s mother’s family name was Wellhouse. Her father founded the Tampa fruit packaging business Wellhouse Company a century ago. Rick and Richard used the original Wellhouse Company seal to form their logo. Richard Stein said the name is “a nod to both Florida and family history.”
“Growth is caused by having a good reputation,” Richard Stein said. “We want to work with companies that view us as a risk management partner and want to bring us into the fold.”
Despite the pandemic, he said the company’s revenue grew 40% last year.
“We’re in a situation where we’re growing a lot,” he said. “(The pandemic) slowed down new conversations, but long term it allows us to better redefine exactly what our approach is.”
To help him start the company, Rick Stein recruited his son from an investment banking role in New York City.
Rick Stein has more than 25 years of experience in insurance, including as CEO of Fletcher | Stein and Lanier Upshaw and president of Palmer & Cay’s Florida operations.
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After that, he briefly worked in corporate development at a private equity platform company.
He graduated with a degree in economics from Sewanee The University of the South in 2014.
He didn’t anticipate following in his dad’s footsteps but as the two started building Wellhouse, that changed.
“I realized that insurance, in general, was a particularly attractive career for me long term because it is all focused on long-term relationships,” he said. “You get to learn about different types of businesses and I basically get to go on field trips for a living.”
Having a strong team of account managers was crucial to the firm’s success, he said. Wellhouse has two account managers and an attorney on staff.
“That’s helped us take on any size account whether it’s middle-market business, a public company or small, Main Street flower shop,” he said.
Wellhouse has offices in the Wells Fargo Center at 1 Independent Drive.
Wellhouse’s goal is to be an extension of their clients’ teams. During the pandemic, they were helping clients with the Paycheck Protection Program, he said.
“When you ask most companies what’s most important about their insurance, price is the fourth or fifth thing listed,” he said.
“We want to show them on the front of the process what it’s like to work with Wellhouse, what resources we can bring to the table, how we can help build their business, be an integral part of their growth and reduce any risk.
“I want to understand where their pain points are and help them address that in any way they can. That also goes beyond insurance.”
In an increasingly difficult insurance market, Stein said businesses should work with a company they trust since rates are rising across the industry.
“We want to be the obvious name for independent businesses in Jacksonville to choose.”