Reese Cropper III and Mike Wheaton of NFP



Associated Insurance Centers and Insurance Management Group become part of the NFP family to provide its customers enhanced coverage options with the same exceptional customer service they’re accustomed to receiving

When large corporations acquire smaller firms, employees and customers often have to endure the negative consequences at a local level. Layoffs, office closures and a decline in customer service frequently accompany what is traditionally promoted as “what’s best for the company.”

A Different Type of Merger 

Yet, when NFP, one of the nation’s largest insurance brokerages, recently merged with Associated Insurance Centers of Berlin and Ocean City’s Insurance Management Group (IMG), the opposite occurred. Both local firms enjoyed greater resources, superior technologies, and most importantly, enhanced employee-benefits packages and long-term office leases. This assured everyone, especially their loyal customers and dedicated staff, that NFP was only concerned with making two great companies even better. 

“To me, this is the best of both worlds. We now have access to more carriers and more infrastructure,” said Insurance Management Group founder Reese Cropper III. “For our customers, we’re going to continue to offer the same level of personal commitment we’ve always offered with greater resources behind
the scenes.” 

Associated Insurance Centers joined the NFP family last June, according to its vice president, Mike Wheaton, who said his firm turned away other prospective merger offers for years. 

“The primary goal of Associated Insurance Centers has always been to provide outstanding service to our friends, neighbors and clients,” Wheaton said, who joined the firm in 1987. “We were recruited by a number of companies in recent years, but the situation never felt completely right. It was different with NFP. Their culture and longevity were aligned with ours. Moving forward, we share a philosophy to provide competitively priced insurance products that are tailored to our customers’ needs and to consistently provide excellent service to our clients.”


A Time-Tested Business Approach to Employees and Customers 

This formula has proved successful ever since Associated Insurance Centers was founded by Mike’s father, Dave Wheaton, and partner, Ralph Shockley, in the early 1970s. Mike Wheaton and Denny Mears later took over the business, and under their direction, the company grew to impressive stature over the years, ultimately comprising 16 office locations in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, with nearly 100 employees — providing coverage platforms throughout the hospitality, contracting and retail industries, along with homeowners and personal automobile insurance. 

Cropper founded Insurance Management Group quite modestly in 1994 as a one-man operation from his home, with the goal to provide specialized residential, condominium and commercial-property plans with personalized service. His primary focus was concentrated on coastal condominium protection coverages in Ocean City, but IMG’s services soon expanded to include business, personal, residential, automobile, boats and renter’s insurance — and the company grew to include clients across the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Virginia Beach. 

“The success of IMG is a testament to the level of service our team provides our customers,” said Reese, who noted that an average of 400 insurance agencies are generally sold each year in the United States. “Being a part of NFP is an exciting opportunity for all of us here. There are so many benefits to being a part of a bigger family. What will not change is the connection and the relationship we have with our clients. With NFP behind us, we’re going to perpetuate it and make the experience an even better one.”

Both entrepreneurs come from long linages of successful families entrenched in the community — with the insurance business in their blood. Mike’s and Reese’s grandfathers owned insurance companies that opened in the 1920s. Ironically, their grandfathers were also presidents of local banks: Maurice Jones at Home Bank in Newark and Reese Cropper at Calvin B. Taylor Bank in Berlin, respectively. 

A Positive Road Ahead 

NFP is a leading insurance broker and consultant that brands its mission in building strong, personal relationships based on trust, transparency and open communication. This, the company states, delivers the best possible solutions for its clients and creates the best possible work environment for its employees.

NFP Corp. operates as an insurance broker, consultant and wealth-management company in two segments: Insurance Brokerage and Consulting and Advisor Services. The Insurance Brokerage and Consulting segment offers corporate benefits, retirement, property and casualty and individual insurance solutions. The Advisor Services segment provides independent broker/dealer and registered investment advisory services to independent financial advisors. The company, founded in 1998, is head-quartered in New York City and has more than 4,000 employees.

This fall, the familiar names, logos and signage of Associated Insurance Centers and Insurance Management Group will be updated to those of NFP. What will not change, Mike and Reese said, is the local, genuine customer service their clients have come to expect and trust.

“We want our customers to know that we’re here. Our staff is here,” Wheaton said. “We want them to feel safe in the fact that we’re still providing the same great service and a larger variety of insurance options for them — and if they need to call me or Reese, we’re still here, too.” 

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