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Gallagher Benefit Services wants to expand in Syracuse

By Journal Staff

Date:

SALINA  —  The head of a national employee-benefits consulting firm’s Syracuse–area office wants to expand the company’s reach in the region over the next several years.

The firm, Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc., opened its Syracuse–area office at 3300 Vickery Road in Salina in July. One employee currently works in that office — Richard Easterly, area vice president.

“This is part of our expansion plan,” Easterly says. “We’re looking initially to grow in this market.”

Gallagher Benefit Services, based outside Chicago in Itasca, Ill., is a subsidiary of the international insurance brokerage and risk-management services firm Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (NYSE: AJG), which is also based in Itasca, Ill. 

Gallagher Benefit Services operates more than 80 offices across the United States and focuses on benefit planning, delivery, and administration. It specializes in executive benefits, health and welfare services, health-care analytics, human-resources services, retirement services, and voluntary benefits.

The firm aims to add at least one account executive to its Syracuse office by the end of the year, according to Easterly. And it wants to grow more in the future.

“If you look out five years you could see a local benefits staff of two account executives, two consultants, and then possibly one human-resources consultant,” Easterly says. “And then three or four administrators.”

The office’s actual rate of growth will depend on how quickly it adds clients, Easterly says. It currently has 12 clients.

Gallagher Benefit Services is targeting potential customers in the Syracuse area with 100 to 500 employees. It plans to start with clients in Syracuse and branch out, Easterly says.

“If I can get a hot pocket down in Binghamton or Ithaca or Watertown or Utica, those are certainly areas that we will be looking at,” he says.

Easterly declined to disclose the Syracuse–area office’s revenue for 2011. It is aiming for revenue of $500,000 in 2012, he says.

The company will have to move from its current location if it hits its target growth. It is leasing 200 square feet of space at 3300 Vickery Road on a temporary basis.

Easterly would like to move Gallagher Benefit Services to downtown Syracuse, although he has no solid relocation plans at this time. He did not know how much space the firm will need.

“I’d be involved in that, but also our real-estate division would come in,” he says. “There are certain protocols they would want to follow as far as the type of space.”

Although Easterly is the only Gallagher Benefit Services employee currently working in the Syracuse office, he closely coordinates with the company’s operations in the Rochester area, where it employs 40 people. Rochester–based advisors with different specializations travel to Syracuse when they need to meet clients face to face, he says.

Gallagher Benefit Services first entered the Rochester market four years ago with the purchase of Providium Consulting Group in Fairport, according to Easterly. The company operates Providium as one of its divisions.

The firm typically acquires local companies in order to expand into new markets, Easterly says. Gallagher Benefit Services opted not to follow that model in Syracuse but is willing to expand in the area through an acquisition if the right opportunity presents itself, he says.

“Right now we wanted to get into the market, and the easiest way to do that was to hire me,” he says. “That does not mean that we won’t be looking for or considering acquisitions. We’ll take the next step if and when.”

Easterly says he worked for a local benefit consulting group before being hired by Gallagher Benefit Services. He declined to name that group, but says he previously worked for the global financial firms UBS (NYSE: UBS) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) in regional management positions.

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