Q&A with Charles “Punch” Martyn III, Chariman and Founder of Tequesta Agency
by Boardroom Brief on January 17, 2011
1. Founded in 1965, Tequesta Agency has evolved from a one man shop to a full service, customer oriented, independent insurance agency, serving more than 5,000 customers throughout the State of Florida and the nation. Over the past 45 years and especially during the recent downturn in the market, can you discuss how your company culture has enabled your business to thrive in a challenged economy?
The basic tenant of our enduring success is our focus on the client where we have always placed a strong emphasis on developing long term relationships. Unique to this business, Tequesta Agency has grown and expanded in a nontraditional way where team compensation is based on the overall success of the agency and not individual performance. Our deep range of experience and expertise has enabled us to build a strong client base and in return we deliver integrity to the process, maintaining trusted relationships with our clients as well as our carriers. Many agencies give lip service to this approach, yet we’ve made it a reality since 1965. More often than not, when businesses suffer declining revenues and evaporating budgets, it leads to staffing cutbacks and diminished customer service. However, in spite of the economy and reduced revenues, we have grown, with the principals of the agency investing in adding more staff to further amplify the level of all the services we provide.
2. For those who may believe it doesn’t matter where you buy insurance, can you explain how this misconception is costing Floridians not only money and service but a higher level of protection? And how important it is to seek out experience in dealing with the unique and complex insurance needs of Florida residents?
The state of Florida poses a much bigger insurance challenge than most of the country, driven by its burgeoning growth as well as the more obvious hurricane threat. And if you don’t understand or keep up with Florida’s unique concerns, locally and as well as what’s going on in Tallahassee, you risk tremendous exposure. Furthermore, as an independent agency with a well established book of business, we have access to the entire marketplace , whereas a captive agent only represents certain carriers, and therefore, the necessary number of companies to produces inconsistent results for their clients. Without question, dealing with an experienced, local insurance professional in Florida who has a keen understanding of the issues, is a must.
3. How did the triple hit of hurricanes which battered the state of Florida in 2004/2005 transform the insurance industry in the state? With the state moving toward small insurers, mixed with larger carriers, are we in a better position now then we were then to survive a hit from a major or multiple hurricanes? What is the prognosis for Florida property insurance in the future?
The 2004/2005 hurricane seasons had an unprecedented impact on our state as well as the insurance industry, essentially ‘blowing up’ the credibility of every maximum probable loss model to date. Fast forward a few years and bolstered by mild storm seasons, and the insurance industry is probably in a better position today. However, the majority of wind exposure is being transferred into the state-run insurer of last resort, Citizens, and therefore insurance carriers are taking on less risk in Florida. Because of the mild hurricane seasons, we haven’t had assessments coming from Citizens, but this threat continues to be very real. As an agency we are sensitive to the need for finding alternatives to Citizens for property insurance for our clients and with Governor Rick Scott in office we should expect gradual changes coming about where the Citizens monopoly erodes as risk is transferred to private insurers. It’s wait and see for the future of the insurance industry and very dependent upon hurricane activity. But overall, we are making strides, seeing improved construction, more updates, and better educated property owners which will serve us well if and when another major storm hits.
4. Business owners are facing many challenges regarding rising health care costs. How will health care reform change the way small business owners’ purchase and provide health insurance for themselves and their employees? Are there any immediate changes we can expect?
The future is uncertain for healthcare and healthcare reform but one thing is clear, costs will continue to increase, there are fewer providers and it’s not going to get any easier for businesses facing tough choices. The reality is demographics are causing rising costs in healthcare where we have an unhealthy, aging population who require immediate access for just about everything. Looking for the positive outcome, businesses can reduce their overall healthcare costs through targeted spending to prevent illness and improve health among their employees. This is where you will see health risk stratification implemented as businesses swing toward preventative healthcare, where opting out of wellness initiatives will cost employees more money. As a result, more than ever, business will require the expertise of a professional benefits agency to help navigate this complex process and that’s where our team of experts will make a significant difference.
5. In addition to founding Tequesta Agency, you are a successful real estate developer, who with your family developed various communities in Martin and Palm Beach Counties, including the Yacht and Country Club of Stuart, Evergreen Country Club, Tequesta Country Club, Turtle Creek Club and Jupiter Inlet Colony. In fact, your family not only helped put the Village of Tequesta on the map, your mother influenced the naming of the town when she became intrigued by the Indians who lived on the dune in Jupiter Inlet Colony, where your father built and lived in the first home. No longer “just a jungle”, Tequesta is a growing, thriving community which is held in favor for its scenic, coastal location, excellent schools and beautiful single family home neighborhoods. How has your expertise in construction and real estate development helped you provide viable alternatives to your clients in a very challenging property marketplace?
My family has a deep rooted love for this area and not only did I choose to raise my own family here, but my two sisters and one brother all call Palm Beach County home. Certainly, my experience building and developing properties has provided me a unique perspective in understanding what my clients need in an insurance company, especially when it comes to high value coastal property. Fostering this approach firm wide, we have chosen to build an agency where clients have access to both producers and account managers by area of expertise and we have a range of experienced specialists who work collectively and collaboratively to serve our clients.
6. In addition to your professional achievements, you are an accomplished salt water angler with a host of trophies to prove it. As an avid fisherman and 30 year member of the West Palm Beach Fishing Club, where is your favorite place to fish locally and why?
That’s an easy question! Off shore from Jupiter to Fort Pierce. I am most into competitive tournament sailfish, catch and release, light tackle fishing, and because of such initiatives as “ban the nets”, long lines taken out of our waters and the recent advent of circle hooks (which hook the billfish in a non lethal way), over the past few years the sailfish population has regenerated and fishing has become better than ever. One of the many reasons I’m looking forward to my next tournament. The season has begun!
About Charles Martyn
Charles (Punch) Martyn is Chairman and Founder of Tequesta Agency. Punch and his family moved to Palm Beach County in 1953. He and his family developed various communities in Martin and Palm Beach County including what is now known as the Village of Tequesta, encompassing Turtle Creek Country Club, Tequesta Country Club and Jupiter Inlet Colony.
Realizing the tremendous growth potential in northern Palm Beach County and the need for a professional, relationship-based insurance agency, Punch founded Tequesta Agency in 1965. With his vision for the community, professionalism, and long-standing relationships, Punch grew Tequesta Agency from a one-man shop to a full-service, customer-oriented, insurance agency.
Over the years, Tequesta Agency has remained focused on the philosophy Punch began “…to be fair, honest and professional while cultivating relationships for the long term.” It was never the goal to be the largest agency in Palm Beach County, but rather an organization big enough to offer a full array of products while remaining small enough to provide personalized service to our clients.
In addition to Tequesta Agency, Punch has interests in Citrus, The Dye Preserve Golf Club, and various real-estate developments.