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City insurance company renovates for growth

Rochester Business Journal
June 1, 2012

Rochester commercial insurance company Lawley Andolina Verdi LLC is in the midst of renovations of more than $250,000, creating space for additional employees.
 
The firm is knocking down walls within its two offices at 30 N. Union St., in the building of the New York State United Teachers, and is adding cubicles and new furniture. Work essentially is done at the office on the east side of the second floor, with crews moving across the hallway to the west-side office this week.
 
"We decided to stay in the city of Rochester," Managing Partner Philip Andolina said. "We worked out a deal with the teachers union to stay and expand and gut both sides of the office.
 
"Right now, we can't get the whole floor, which we would like, because of a couple of other, smaller unions that have a need for some space. So we'll work around them."
 
Renovations began April 1 and are scheduled for completion by the end of August.
 
"We're totally knocking down all the walls," Andolina said. "Out of the roughly 47 people here, I think we're only going to end up with eight offices. Everyone else is going to be put in all-new cubicles.
 
"We're pretty much getting all new furniture. The stuff that we've had here has been here forever. We decided to move forward."
 
Employees moved from the east-side offices to the west side, with some relocating to space on the first floor, while that work was done. They were back on the east side as of Monday as work began on the west side.
 
"We're running out of space," Andolina said. "With the way everything was set up, we needed to knock down some walls to bring in additional people. We've brought on about nine people in the last few years. We anticipate bringing on another four people, hopefully by the end of the year."
 
Growth has come in every department, Andolina said.
 
"It's personal lines, commercial lines and benefits," he said. "We're starting to do some corporate work out of the Rochester office. Our director of personal lines companywide is housed out of here. We also do some work for our Westchester office downstate."
 
Lawley Andolina Verdi is a subsidiary of Buffalo-based Lawley Service Inc., which also has offices in Batavia, Amherst and Fredonia and in Florham Park, N.J. The Rochester office is Lawley Service's second-largest.
 
The Rochester firm's insurance business is on the east side of the building owned by NYSUT. Lawley Benefits Group LLC includes 15 employees-four of whom have been added this year, Andolina said-on the west side.
 
The two offices total 15,000 square feet, the east side being larger at 9,000 square feet. The west side was formerly occupied by the Computer Task Group Inc. before its move to the first floor.
 
"This building has been good to us," Andolina said. "I've been here over 20 years. It's a perfect location, with parking. Our clients tend to like it."
 
The project also includes computer upgrades.
 
"When we're completed with this, our office is going to a new management system," Andolina said. "We're totaling re-automating our organization statewide. We're going to be the model office for it."
 
Client information from the old management system was transferred into the new system, with Rochester the first Lawley office to test the software.
 
Lawley Service Inc. is the 50th-largest independent insurance agency in the United States. It entered the Rochester market in 1999 by merging with Andolina Insurance Agency Inc. to form Lawley-Andolina LLC.
 
Lawley-Andolina merged with Rochester's Luellen Insurance in 2004 and with Webster's Walter C. Taylor Agency in 2007 and was renamed Lawley Andolina Verdi.
 
The firm added seven employees in 2010 to increase its workforce to 40 because of growth in its benefits practice and the addition of a construction industry group. The construction industry practice has stalled in Rochester because of the economic downturn, but a few hires have been made in Buffalo, Andolina said.
 
"We've written quite a few new contracting accounts," he said, "but we still haven't made the penetration into the marketplace the way we want to."
 
The firm recently was awarded a medical insurance account after a request for proposals by the Rochester City School District, Andolina said.
 
"Long term, I think we're going to continue to grow," he said. "We're looking at doubling our revenue, if at all possible, with some purchases and acquisitions."

6/1/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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