The deal adds 25 employees to Sunstar, doubling the company’s size in Arkansas.
The two companies did not disclose financial terms of the deal.
“This gives us unprecedented statewide coverage, like no other insurance agency [in Arkansas] has ever had,” Sunstar CEO Andrew “A.B.” Meadors said in a statement. “Now we cover Northwest Arkansas, Little Rock and Jonesboro. I like to think of it as our version of the famous triangle offense.”
Meadors’ reference to the triangle offense is a basketball strategy used by basketball coach Phil Jackson, who used the scheme to win a record 11 NBA championships coaching the Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers and the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls.
“To my knowledge, there has never been another agency in Arkansas with a major presence in those three areas of the state,” Meadors said. “It’s our triangle, and we’re on the offensive to write business to take care of our clients.”
Farris Insurance was founded in 1973. Gary Jech, the previous company owner, has been president since 1993. Meadors said Jech would remain with Sunstar as a member of the company’s leadership team, and Farris Insurance will maintain its company name.
“We’re excited about this partnership with Sunstar,” Jech said in a statement. “We’re keeping all our associates. We’re keeping our agency name. So it will be business as usual here. Plus, we get the benefit of more tools to work with from the Sunstar arsenal.”
“This gives us a whole new level of resources and expertise for the Northwest Arkansas market,” said Fred Stone, who will lead management efforts with Jech. Stone is the retired CEO of Rebsamen Insurance in Little Rock and previously led Sunstar’s office in Rogers. Sunstar opened an office on the fourth floor of the J.B. Hunt Parkway Tower in 2018. Stone will work now from Farris Insurance headquarters on 4706 S. Thompson St. in Springdale. The Rogers office is now closed.
Meadors, the son of Allan Meadors, an inaugural inductee of the Arkansas Insurance Hall of Fame in 2015, characterized the deal as a “bold move in uncertain times,”— referring to the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic — but one that will provide the best benefit for Sunstar customers moving forward.
Sunstar has offices in Little Rock, Jonesboro, Helena and Springdale. The Farris deal is Sunstar’s fifth major expansion since Meadors joined the company in September 2017, and the company has grown from two employees to 50.
Meadors said the agency is still interested in growth opportunities.
“We have a private equity partner on the East Coast, and we are still in acquisition mode,” he said. “We’re still bullish about going forward and looking for more [acquisition] partners in Arkansas.”
Sunstar Insurance of Arkansas is a subsidiary of Memphis-based Sunstar Insurance Group. Chairman and CEO David “Casey” Bowlin founded the parent company in 2012, and it has rapidly grown to become the 45th largest property and casualty insurance agency in the U.S. as ranked by industry trade magazine Insurance Journal.