Brightway Insurance and its franchisees are in acquisition mode for 2014 as the company pursues licensing in all 50 states.

Brightway Insurance agency owner Ken Toney, whose retail store is located in Sanford, Fla., identified an opportunity in Lake Mary-based Towne Center Insurance Agency and took steps to acquire its book of business. The Towne Center Insurance customers join the Brightway store, as does previous owner Chris Palumbo, who will act as a producer working with Toney.

"Giving our franchisees the tools to grow is a big part of our future," said Brightway President Talman Howard. "We are happy to welcome Towne Center Insurance’s clients to the fold and allow them to enjoy the benefits of Brightway’s ideal customer experience, back office support and competitive rates."

This acquisition is the first of several for Brightway. The value-added insurance retailer seeks 2014 corporate acquisitions, assists its agents by paying a portion directly and financing their share of acquisitions.

Brightway Insurance spent 2013 investing in improved human capital, infrastructure and processes to allow for faster growth. The company is ramping up products as well as benefits to its agency owners, including a $500,000 investment in an advertising co-op program that encourages owners to reinvest in their stores to accelerate their growth. It has now reached 110 stores, 600 active employees, 205,000 policies and more than $300 million in written premiums.

Plans are in place to acquire licenses in nearly all 50 states by July. These licenses will allow the company to enter new geographic markets through organic growth and acquisition, giving it a quick footprint in new states in 2014.

Brightway Insurance’s unique model allows agents to grow their books of business while its back office support team and systems manage renewals and other needs. In the case of Palumbo, his agency hit a ceiling and, without sufficient back office support, he was unable to grow his book of business further.

Through its new acquisition assistance program, Brightway provides its franchisees with access to capital in order for them to grow by acquisition, and then roll them into their existing stores. The acquisition assistance program is a contribution both of eligible funds from the Brightway corporate office and through a multi-million dollar credit facility. Brightway encourages agency owners to identify acquisition opportunities. Brightway will then perform the financial and legal due diligence on his or her behalf. Agency owners benefit from a combination of financial support from Brightway cash and a business loan from the multi-million dollar line of credit.

"We are attracted to acquisition targets with books of commercial insurance as an exceptional way to acquire preferred agencies. We know that those businesses will benefit from Brightway’s services and access to carriers," Howard said.

In addition to encouraging further acquisitions by current franchisees, Brightway will also continue to focus on organic growth by recruiting successful business leaders – not just insurance agents – for insurance agency franchise opportunities.