BROKERING BUDS: Peter McKenzie and Paul Munson went out on a limb to start Darling Downs Insurance Brokers 27 years ago but tomorrow they're saying goodbye to loyal clients from over the years as they both retire.
BROKERING BUDS: Peter McKenzie and Paul Munson went out on a limb to start Darling Downs Insurance Brokers 27 years ago but tomorrow they're saying goodbye to loyal clients from over the years as they both retire. Marian Faa

End of an era for brokering buddies who went out on a limb

A BOLD pair of brokers who banded together to fight centralisation are finally taking off their suit ties and retiring after 27 years in business.

When Warwick's Suncorp branch announced it was slashing Warwick staff and centralising back in 1991, Peter McKenzie and Paul Munson decided they would seize a new opportunity.

The pair backed each another in a brave step to become the region's first insurance brokers and the only independent brokers.

"It was challenging, that's for sure," Mr McKenzie said.

Starting from nothing, the two worked tireless hours and lived solely off savings for their first year of business.

But through the years, Darling Downs Insurance Brokers' reputation began to spread across the country.

"Our first client was mayor of the time, Stan Walsh, which gave a boost to our confidence," Mr Munson said.

In their first four years, the independent brokers took on 2500clients.

 

BEGINNINGS: Peter McKenzie and Paul Munson in the early days of their business, Darling Downs Insurance Brokers.
BEGINNINGS: Peter McKenzie and Paul Munson in the early days of their business, Darling Downs Insurance Brokers. Contributed

But a challenge for the small-town brokers came with the new millennium when the Financial Services Reform Act was passed in April 2001.

The act meant the business would have to expand by at least 30per cent in order to survive the new costs imposed on insurance brokers.

Keeping the dream alive, the pair purchased books of business from three other companies in town, including Ray Lyons and Andrew Brennan.

Establishing an office in Toowoomba, the name of the business changed from Warwick and District Insurance Broker to its name of today.

Through the years, the business has grown to service customers right across the country.

"It's nothing for us to have clients from Tasmania, Perth ... and most of those are people who have lived in Warwick but moved away and stayed with us," Mr Munson said.

Today, the company's household policy is regarded as one of the best in Australia.

"I think Peter and I got on very well. I don't think we have had a cross word in 27 years," Mr Munson said.

 

Peter McKenzie and Paul Munson look back on 27 years of success.
Peter McKenzie and Paul Munson look back on 27 years of success. Marian Faa

With only six staff through the business in that whole time, they seem to be treating their employees right too.

"It's the people and the camaraderie that has been the highlight," MrMcKenzie said.

But as the pair prepare to farewell their fruitful careers, they say all will be business as usual for new and existing clients.

The company will be taken over by Paul's son, Andrew Munson, and Brad Millard, who have both been working in the business for a number of years.

While Mr Munson jets off to Europe in time for the Armistice Day centenary celebrations in London, MrMcKenzie will be putting up his feet and taking a well-earned rest while he contemplates the next chapter of his life. Both plan to remain in the Warwick region, where they were born and bred.

Both plan to remain in Warwick - the region where they were born and bred.

Mr Munson and Mr McKenzie would like to invite their clients for a farewell "cuppa" at their Warwick office at 70 Grafton St this Friday between 10am and 2pm.



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