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The Elder Group's client success strategies and success stories and Interviews

Today I am interviewing Glenn Tippy president of GBW (Gerrity, Baker, Williams, Inc.).

Most importantly, Glenn’s company and Glenn’s business strategies and approach to client problem solving is extraordinary. We at the Elder Group have been told time and time again from clients how special GBW and Glenn Tippy are.

Mr. Elder: Good afternoon Glenn. I am happy to have this time with you to discuss your success stories. We at the Elder Group have heard from so many companies how great you are, I thought we might discuss your thoughts on you successes.

Mr. Elder: What are some of the challenges you face as a business owner and how do you rise above them?

Mr. Tippy: As with any business, we are affected by the broad economy. But we have had solid success and growth over the last year despite the environment. That’s probably due to listening to clients, working to protect their success by understanding their needs and exposures.

Mr. Elder: What challenges are your business clients facing in this economic environment?

Mr. Tippy: Our clients cover a broad spectrum of business so their results range from those who are having to cut back sharply, to those who are still growing dramatically each quarter. In general, our successful clients are watching their sales closely, by week or even day if that is possible. They are working to keep tight contact with their own existing customers, and pushing constantly for new customers by every avenue they have ever tried or can find. Of course, our clients are watching their expenses with a new intensity.

Mr. Elder: What is happening in the insurance industry?

Mr. Tippy: Well, prices are starting to rise and all consumers are always concerned with price, but we are also seeing a flight to quality. Since such icons of the insurance industry as AIG and The Hartford were downgraded from A+ to A, consumers have become concerned about the long term stability of insurance carriers. We check those ratings and receive updates daily. At this moment, we’re working to control insurance cost increases for clients as the market hardens, while keeping them in solid companies.

Mr. Elder: How do you find your opportunities?

Mr. Tippy: As always, referrals from existing clients and other people who respect us give us the best sales prospects, whether individual clients or acquisition opportunities.

I also expect all of our sales staff to be involved in their communities. Those communities may be geographic, as in their local towns. Or they may be industry specific, as for a sales person with a background in the pharmaceutical industry. Over time, if you have expertise, credibility, and ethics, and put in hard work in good causes, people get to know you and to trust your advice.

Traditional business promotion through trade shows, direct mail, and various forms of Internet presence can also work; if you have products to match the targets and a compelling story to tell.

Mr. Elder: What sets GBW apart from other insurance counselors?

Mr. Tippy: We approach our clients’ needs from a risk management perspective. Before you can quote a price or recommend coverage, you have to understand the client’s business. Someone who only wants a “me too” quote without review and discussion will find plenty of brokers who are willing to throw quotes at the wall without understanding. But you pay for counsel and should get it, before you find you don’t have what you need.

Mr. Elder: Can you tell us a success story about one of your clients (without naming names of course)?

Mr. Tippy: Minor issues can expose a client to substantial problems. New York State recently created a problem for businesses conducting business in NY on an occasional basis. A technicality in how Workers Compensation coverage is shown on their home state policies can expose businesses to fines. On that issue, just counting a few clients whose former agents mishandled that technicality, we’ve been able to step in and have $128,000 in fines rescinded.

On a broader scale, counseling clients to maintain high limits of liability insurance has probably saved more businesses and personal assets than any other thing we do. In personal insurance alone we can point to two recent automobile accidents where claims against our clients soared over the $500,000 policy limit, but were met by the umbrella or excess liability policies we recommend to every business and individual. That protection doesn’t take away the trauma and sorrow of the accident, but it can keep you from losing your business or your future income.

Glenn Tippy, President and Manging Partner of Garrity,Baker, Williams Inc. He may be reached at 1-800-548-2329 or visit their website at