Barb McGrath 0:01
Today’s guest has been a part of her family business. Literally since day 140 years in Knight Archer insurance here in Saskatchewan opened their first location 40 years ago. They’re celebrating this year, and it’s a big year for them. The President and CEO Tracy Archer Has the President and CEO, Tracy has, of course, been in that family business right from the very beginning. And she’s got a really good perspective on leadership, finding balance for family. And as a single mom, she needs to make time for kids just to make sure that everything stays in check. Welcome, Tracy. so pleased to have you here.
Tracy Archer 0:48
Barb McGrath 0:50
So tell me a little bit about some of those early days. What like what spurred the creation of the business 40 years ago?
Tracy Archer 1:00
You know, the business actually began with my mum and my uncle. So her brother began the business and my father was also there more in supporting role. And as he had his full time job, so he wasn’t the one actually, in the business full time doing all the work. So we actually started in our basement of our house.
Barb McGrath 1:25
Barb McGrath 1:27
There we go. That’s great.
Tracy Archer 1:28
So directly in our basement, and within six months, we actually moved into our location that we’re in still right now on Victoria Avenue East. Wow.
Tracy Archer 1:38
So that was for 40 years. Absolutely.
Barb McGrath 1:43
Any idea how many renovations you’ve gone through?
Tracy Archer 1:47
No. You know, we we’ve been in different spots, all within kind of the same same area. And then we’ve just expanded right? And over the years, we’ve, we now have the main level as well as the upstairs level all for a night Archer and, you know, just just adjusted as we’ve grown. So it’s been great.
Barb McGrath 2:08
Exactly. Wouldn’t it be neat to put up one of those pictures in the office that show, you know, kind of the office over the years, cracked down some pictures, because I’m sure your mom and dad or uncle kept them over the years. But that would be very interesting.
Tracy Archer 2:23
We have some really nice scrapbooks, actually, of all of, you know, a couple different years different people that we’ve had, and you know, in some of our growth, opening different offices, and it’s, it’s great to go back and look at some of those things that I really appreciate the history.
Barb McGrath 2:39
Yeah, absolutely. So you started in the basement of your house? How many locations do you have now?
Tracy Archer 2:45
Currently, we have 17 locations. So we have 14 locations in Saskatchewan to in Manitoba and one in Alberta.
Barb McGrath 2:54
Okay, and how do you find being out of the province? Is the insurance landscape quite a bit different outside the borders? Or is it pretty similar?
Tracy Archer 3:03
I you know, there’s there are differences. Certainly Saskatchewan and Manitoba are quite similar because they both have government auto insurance. So both STI and MPI in Manitoba, are quite similar in their approach. But certainly when we go into Alberta, where they do not have that government auto, it makes a big difference on how we approach insurance. Also the landscape and, and business is a little bit different in Alberta than it is in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Barb McGrath 3:33
Yeah, and that sounds like almost any other time we compare the provinces there’s always those unique nuances, right?
Tracy Archer 3:40
Barb McGrath 3:43
So are you an only child? Is that why you ended up heading up the family business? Or?
Tracy Archer 3:49
I’m not I’m actually the youngest. Okay, sorry, oh, older brother, older sister, and my brother has worked in the business. Now for about 24 years, he has been part of the business. And James actually took the route of working a little bit more in our mortgage side of the business. And he moved into the corporate side of the business, but he’s also had a couple other interests that he’s been pursuing. So you know, he wants to kind of go on his his own path on doing few things. And so he stepped back a little bit more from a leadership role within the business and my sister worked a couple years in the university, but really since then, she has has done her own thing moved to Montreal, kind of set up shop there with her family and everything. And just recently in December, she actually moved back to Regina, but her husband works for us, and he’s been working for us for about three years work remotely from Montreal and we’ve been able to make that work and find a position that he can do remotely. So it’s cave is our first remote worker before everything else happened.
Barb McGrath 5:00
So to test it a little bit, you know, that’s interesting, because I often wonder that about family businesses when they’re siblings. And you know, how does that all sorted out? Or does it usually sort itself out?
Barb McGrath 5:14
Because can’t imagine that the tension or the dynamic that it would create when you’ve got two siblings, you’ve kind of both gearing to head up a company. So when you started, you talked about your mum and your uncle, was there kids on his side as well that were active in the business?
Tracy Archer 5:31
No, there hasn’t been but there are five, my mom has five kids in her family. So for siblings, all of them have worked in the business, as well, as we have had probably, I want to say at least six or seven of my cousins, some aunts and uncles from either side. So it’s truly been a really big family endeavor. Not just my own family, in terms of my parents, but the whole family has been a part of it. And you know, recently, just this past year, actually, my my sister and brother, they have come onto our board of directors. So you know, they’ve now kind of taking the position of DirecTV and being my boss.
Barb McGrath 6:18
You’re the youngest. So like they’ve had years of practice bossing you around.
Tracy Archer 6:23
That’s right. So I may be, I may be the one here that is president and CEO. But at the end of the day, I still report into my brother and sister on our board of directors. So
Barb McGrath 6:33
yeah, and your dad and your mom, are they on the board as well.
Tracy Archer 6:37
My dad is still on our board of directors, and my mom was able to, to really take a step back. She retired in 2016. So five years ago now, and you know, what, all of her time is really devoted to her grandkids. Yeah, spends a ton of time with the kids and you know, has really embraced being grandma and you know, is happy to be able to take a step back from from insurance, which she did for, you know, for 35 years and said, No, I’m good. I don’t need to be doing that work anymore. And lots of fulfilment from spending time with the kids.
Barb McGrath 7:14
Exactly, that’s anyway, isn’t that what we all strive for, is to to work and get to that place in life where we’ve got time to, you know, spend more time with family and, and do things like that.
Barb McGrath 7:27
So as the CEO of the corporation, you’re one of not nearly enough female CEOs? Does that feel like a burden? That’s right, no burden has a negative connotation. But does that feel like a responsibility to you? Or, you know, what does that feel like?
Tracy Archer 7:46
You know, I think I’m very lucky that I grew up, both in that and household. That is, it’s very balanced. And my parents always, each had their their own careers, but also really balanced our family life. And there was no strict roles or anything within the family. And I also grew up in the business where for the majority of the time, my my mom was president of Knight Archer insurance. So when my when my dad came back into the business in 2001, my mum continued in her role until 2016, when she retired, so Oh, okay, until the last couple years that my dad actually moved into the role as president and CEO, so and then he retired two years ago. So when you went into that,
Barb McGrath 8:36
Okay, so that’s very interesting. I didn’t know that, of course, because your dad was so well known in the community, I just assumed that he was, you know, back at the helm kind of thing. So, so talk about those leadership principles, then that you learned from your, your mom, especially because she was a female CEO at a time where that was very uncommon.
Tracy Archer 8:59
So she, you know, my, my parents have always been very involved in the community. And you know, that it’s always been very important to them to be able to give back to the community. So we we have always had, I think, a lot of strength in terms of balance of women in the office as well as men, and understanding the the need to diversify not only in terms of gender, but also in terms of ethnicity, in terms of age, all of those things and my mom really put that at the forefront of something that meant a lot to her. And she took a lot of time to get involved in things. So you know, she was a part of the insurance brokers of Saskatchewan. She was on their board of directors for, I think, seven or eight years. She also led the insurance Women’s Association of Saskatchewan and participated on the board for the insurance brokers association of Canada. He or she really took you know, a leading role within the industry. For a number of years, and I believe she was only the third woman to be president, or three to be Chair of the insurance brokers association of Saskatchewan, so she has been a leader in everything she’s done. So I think I take it for granted a little bit that you know, that it can be done. And it’s just been normalized for me that there’s no differences in terms of anything I can achieve. Versus anyone else.
Barb McGrath 10:27
Exactly. Now, one of the differences though, is your mom had your dad for support, and you’re a single mom, so how are you balancing it all?
Tracy Archer 10:37
It certainly does make make a change in our life. And, you know, it has required that I step back a little bit more from some of the community activities that that I have enjoyed earlier on, certainly in my life. And, you know, really focus on the most important thing in my life is my children. And, you know, in really getting to that point it you know, I think as a parent, you get to realize, what are the things that matter to you. And for me, it was first and foremost, making sure that I’m there for my children, I love my work, and I, you know, do it always to the best of my ability. But my children are number one. And so everything I do, I want to make sure that they know that I’m there for them. And you know, and that they have that support. So I’m very lucky that my mom does a lot of support for me. So I really enjoy spending that time with my kids. And you know, she’s, she’s there every day after school, she’s the one picking them up from school and, you know, taking them to their activities, allowing me to, you know, to continue work kind of till five or six, and then picking them up at the end of the day, and usually be able to join them at the end and pick them up, maybe see a little bit of their sports, but you know, it is a lot of balance. So
Barb McGrath 11:57
Yeah, well, and you’re very fortunate to have that built in support system, right? It’s almost like grandma nanny kind of thing or nanny Grandma, like, That’s awesome, right? So are you good at turning it off? So the girls go to bed? whatever time it is at nine o’clock? Are you good for turning it off? Or do you find yourself logging back in checking some email? What’s your habit?
Tracy Archer 12:22
So I like to think I’m good at it. I also know that certainly my staff or anyone, clients, they can reach me at any time. So I do all of my work off of my cell phone just about and I guess constantly connected in that part. But I do make a concerted effort that, you know, when I’m at work, that’s my work time, I want to really focus on doing that doing that well. And when I get home, I want to be mom and I want to do that well. So, but at the same time, you know, having that understanding that, you know, sometimes girls Mom’s going to have to do some work. And that’s my responsibility. So you know, there’s, there’s balance, sometimes I may need five minutes, I may need a half hour, but you know, I’m going to come back and do all those things I need to so I don’t feel the need to work after hours. But it’s just always having that availability and people knowing that they can reach out if need be.
Barb McGrath 13:22
Exactly. So talk about how you build your team at the office, so that you feel like you have that support system where you know, you can walk away at five and six o’clock and have the confidence to know that those who you know, might be there when the stores open late, or if something does come up as an emergency. Talk about that for me if you can.
Tracy Archer 13:42
Um, you know, we have worked really hard over the last, I would say about five or six years. Since 2015, really, when when we started to grow a little bit more within the province, we worked hard to be able to build that leadership team and really transition from it being our family leaving the business to having a team that’s leaving the business. And so although we have certainly a family focus that still continues, whether that’s from the board perspective or myself in my position, you know, I rely heavily on my team and I they’re fantastic. I really enjoy working with everyone that I have within our leadership team. And we also focus to make sure that we have, you know, have a lot of different levels that can support our team where we’re open eight till eight, Monday to Friday night, Saturday 12 for Sunday. So you know, and that’s across the province. So it is important that our staff are able to have that supervisors that they can reach out to whoever that may be. So we do have branch managers in each location that are really taking a hold and responsible for that area and then also the the support above them. So it does allow me a lot of you know ability to step back also to engage in different industry activities. So I am currently working on a lot of different boards of directors within the industry, participating in different focus groups, within different insurance companies and, and I’m okay to be able to take that time to devote to the industry devote to our connections there, build those relationships, and know that everything is still working here at the office, and that we have that support here.
Barb McGrath 15:31
Exactly. Well, if you think back to those early days, when there was a single location on Victoria Avenue, your mom being the president or whoever, whoever was at that time, they were probably still actively working with clients selling insurance. Plus, they were you know, that President and CEO, plus plus, plus, where you guys have matured as a business now, and you know, you’re able to truly be that leader, that sets the tone, because if you were still, you know, actively pursuing business or actively working with clients, you’re not going to be able to have that same kind of balance and, you know, be on the boards and things like that, if I recall correctly, you’re on the board with the insurance and Insurance Association here in Saskatchewan is it Canada as well, you just,
Tracy Archer 16:20
I’ve actually just come off of the one in Canada, but on these boards, as well, as I’m currently chair of our issuer Advisory Committee. So that’s the SGI part in terms of selling our plate insurance and driver’s licenses. So working on a couple of those things is, it’s just really important to me, I love engaging with our peers across the industry, you know, different leaders, and learning from them. It is it’s so invaluable to be able to learn from your peers on what they’re doing what works for them. Also different understandings of business, we have a very good spread in terms of rural locations, as well as urban locations. But I’ve lived in Regina my whole life, and I may not have the same perspective of small town, as certainly a lot of other brokers across the Saskatchewan. So really getting to understand their perspective, I think helps me in leading the whole company in able to say, these are some of the things that we need to focus on in these small towns, or something understandings we need to have. Because I may not come with that perspective myself.
Barb McGrath 17:33
Well, and even something like agriculture, I mean, agricultural policies, I would presume, aren’t a huge thing here in Regina. But as soon as you head out into the rural areas, then it’s a totally different thing.
Tracy Archer 17:45
Right? Absolutely. Our, you know, our office in in Humboldt, we have four offices in that area. And they are very focused on our agriculture sector. Say when you go to yorkton, as well as we have three smaller offices in Craven Lumsden, and pence and, you know, it’s really as soon as you get out of those city limits, the agriculture sector in Saskatchewan is is very booming, it’s very exciting and, and ever changing right there, they’re really moving into being true businesses. And, you know, moving away from some of those smaller family farms, so it’s exciting to see the changes in the growth within agriculture.
Barb McGrath 18:24
Absolutely. And even the use of technology on the farm, where it used to be, you know, technology was just not a thing. And now everything from the tractors to the amount of internet use that they need to be able to really do the job, so to speak, right? Um, leadership, leadership is a very difficult thing for anyone, do you find that you have, I’ll say, core principles or core values around how you lead? Or, you know, is it just inherent, and it’s what you’ve always learned and lived? And you continue that now as a as a company CEO?
Tracy Archer 19:06
That’s a good question. You know, I I look back that my core values and we’ve actually done a lot of exercises in the past two years, at our strategic planning and annual business planning that really trying to engage with each of our members of our leadership team to talk about what our core values are. And for me, my core values are first and foremost, independence and freedom. And those are things that I think I hold very dear. And some of that comes I think from also sporting background, I competed in a individual sport. But at the same time, you also rely on your team. So regardless if you are the one competing directly for yourself at that point in time, you have the team support, you have the team training with you every day and pushing them to be better and also supporting your teammates and pushing them to be better. So I think that really helps me in my role right now and being able to, to lead and be independent and have that freedom, but also relying on my team and know that they’re, that they are here for my success. I’m here as part of their success. And we have to work together in tort in order to both achieve what we want.
Barb McGrath 20:23
Is it interesting that those basic principles that we learned as a kid about being on a team supporting a team showing up for a team are sometimes the most important principles going forward.
Tracy Archer 20:36
Absolutely, it’s, uh, you know, it really is remarkable how much you know, those beliefs, and everything that I was taught through sport has really played out in my life. And I think it is so essential for, you know, for kids to get involved, and whether that’s sports, arts, whatever it is, but to, to be involved in something that that is bigger than themselves, and to understand how you play a role in, you know, in the bigger hole, how you can contribute, and how you can take away from you know, other people and learn from them to make yourself better.
Barb McGrath 21:11
Exactly. You know, it’s so interesting, because as a parent, and as a parent of kids who were in sports and activities, something that we’ve always reinforced with the kids, like, once you sign up, once you’re committed, like you show up, it doesn’t matter if you don’t feel like showing up, doesn’t matter if you’re tired. If you’re sick, okay, we’ll take an exception. And I quickly discovered that not every parent has that same philosophy. So without getting into a judging conversation, we’re pretty insistent with our kids. But if you’ve signed up like you’re committing, and I don’t care if you decide you don’t want to do it next year, but this year, you in right. And I think that, that that just instills something huge in kids at such a young age, right? It’s like mom and dad said, I had to show up, Mom and Dad said, I had to show up, Mom and Dad said I had to be on time mom and dad said I had to be on time. And for many kids, it’s like, whenever Yeah, I’ll show up for two games this season and not the rest. So again, without judging, I think that for those who have been involved in sport, we tend to pass it on to our kids. And then, you know, if you weren’t involved in sport, or maybe it wasn’t something you enjoy, and then there’s different lessons that you’re teaching your kids, right. So nothing has given me wider eyes than parenting in terms of how different we all really are. Yeah, it’s shocking, absolutely shocking.
Tracy Archer 22:42
Yes, my, my oldest daughter has, has taught me a lot in terms of patience, first and foremost, right. And I think all children teach, teach their parents how to be more patient. But also her, her way of thinking is I would almost a completely different from mine. And it really makes me take a step back and say, Okay, we’re not seeing this the same way. And I need to take a step back and understand where she’s coming from. And I need to be able to relate and understand that my way is not the right way. That you know, there’s there’s just different perspectives and how we approach things. And I think that’s what’s allowed me to be better in everything I do, by just applying those same principles that, you know, it’s it’s not a right or wrong or anything like that. It’s just that people do things differently. They approach different situations. And Jasmine has been fantastic at teaching me those things. Whereas my youngest is a lot more like me. So it’s a lot easier for us to understand each other. But my oldest is certainly, they’re very artistic. She comes from that artistic background from creativity, where I may be a little bit more of a linear thinker.
Barb McGrath 24:02
And it’s their thinking process. The one that I’ve really picked up on is the communication process. So having had a sport background and a business background, how we communicate information is communicate is one way. But yes, when you have that artistic flair, or you know, your brain just works different, you communicate different. And so we have to really watch when we’re talking, especially with our daughter as well, that we have to make sure that we understand what she’s trying to tell us. Because other words, otherwise our go to is well no, that’s not the truth. But really, it’s she just communicated so much differently than we do. And it’s not that she’s trying to lie to us. She’s just telling us what she thinks we need to know when of course we want to know more. So yes, it makes it interesting. Anyway, we are basically at a time so please tell everyone how they can find you. And find Knight Archer and what they would find you for.
Tracy Archer 25:03
Absolutely. So we are certainly located on all your social channels so that you can come visit us. But also take a look at our website, we do have chat available, we have a lot of self available items in terms of being able to purchase insurance and quoting there. And you can take a look at all of our locations that you can come into. So we are right across the sketch one our province here. And it’s very important to us that we are reaching out to all of our customers. So I really love that engagement aspect. And you know, we have changed where we try to look at things to be a client experience, rather than just service. And that’s the engagement part that we really look for from our clients. So get in touch with us anytime.
Barb McGrath 25:56
Awesome. That sounds wonderful. So thank you very much for being with me here today. It was a pleasure to talk to you and just kind of understand how leadership works in you know, a family business that has grown rapidly and demonstrated some amazing success. So thank you for being here.
Tracy Archer 26:15
Thanks very much.
Barb McGrath 26:17
If you’d like to be a guest on the show, you can email me at Barb at Google girl.ca or reach out on Facebook and Instagram at Above the Fold. ca. Just a reminder, you can even submit questions in advance of our live shows on our Facebook page. I’m your host Barb McGrath, local business owner and Google Girl.
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Today’s guest is a business leader, a strong family advocate and a role model for her girls. Nothing makes her more proud than to be there for her kids.
Tracy Archer is the President & CEO of a Knight Archer Insurance. A 40-year-old family business created in the basement of her parents house. All these years later, this follow-in-her-mom’s-steps entrepreneur is a confident, successful, down-to-earth leader.
Tune in to learn her secrets and find out how she “does it all!”
Connect with Tracy @ Knight Archer Insurance
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