40 years in business is a major milestone, especially when you look at the number of businesses that fail in the first 5 years. As you can imagine, there has been a lot of change and growth over a 40 year period and we’re not just talking about the fashion or our hairstyles.

We want to share our business journey with you, to not only look back on fond memories and remind ourselves how far we have come, but to inspire anyone in business who might be wondering if they can make it to the 40 year milestone.

So, we decided to go to the top and talk to the guy who has been here since Day 1 in 1981, Don Tickle. After all it was vision that has allowed Rivers Insurance to remain one of the most successful insurance brokers in Queensland.

Tell us the story about how and why you started Rivers insurance

Rivers was created to take over the business of an existing insurance broker. W.P Insurance Brokers was an arm of a publicly listed builder/developer and we created Rivers Insurance in 1981.

Where was your first office?

Our first office was 99 Leichhardt Street Spring Hill. The office was pretty small and we used second hand furniture and equipment to help get us started.

How many staff did you have in 1981? We started with 5 staff in 1981 and in 2021 we have 37 team members across 3 offices in Brisbane, Cairns & Innisfail.

What are the major milestones or changes that stand out to you most?

Although profitable from commencement, we put a chart up on the wall to monitor our progress over the coming year, but had to alter the chart part way through the year, as we far exceeded our expected growth predictions.

A key milestone was being involved in Expo 88. We were appointed by the project manager to handle the insurance program for the construction of the Expo 88 site. During the latter stages of the development, we were asked to handle the major covers for the operational stage of Expo 88, which involved significant efforts to marry the desires for the artistic groups within Expo 88 to produce world class entertainment, with the desires of the insurers to minimise the risks as much as it could.

Following its completion, the plan was to sell off the land that had been acquired, but the people of BRISBANE didn’t want the party to end and so a new plan for the ongoing site was created and again we were engaged to facilitate that process.

1988 was significant for another reason, as although we already had a presence in Cairns, we took over the operations of CGU in Innisfail, so that it ceased to be an office of CGU on Friday afternoon and commenced as an insurance brokerage on Monday morning.

Then approximately 14 years ago, we were approached by another publicly listed company, Austbrokers, who took an interest in the Company, which provided the catalyst for further significant growth.

2018 was another significant milestone when we acquired Premier Insurance Brokers and added them to our growing portfolio.

Are you surprised at where the company is today?

Absolutely astonished how far we have come and the growth we have achieved in the past 40 years.

How do you think the insurance industry has changed in the past 40 years?

Back when we started Rivers Insurance, the industry in Australia was dominated by English companies. We are proud that Rivers Insurance is an Australian owned family run business in an industry dominated by large international conglomerates.

It also used to be a very male dominated industry however we have seen many more females playing a much larger role, with now 62% of our team female.

Another major change is that back in the 80’s true Customer Focus was really just an illusion. Today it is one of our core values and one we live and breathe every day. 

What do you believe has been the secret of your success?

I believe our values have played an integral part of our success. We genuinely care and never want our clients to feel alone as part of the insurance process.  We strongly believe that if our clients do well than we will also do well.

Where do you see the company in another 40 years?

That’s too hard to predict, although I’m concerned about the push for automation and efficiency will be at a cost to the client relationship. We will always strive to have personal connection with our clients. 

We’d like to thank all our past and present staff and clients for being part of our journey and helping us make this 40-year milestone.

We would not be here today without the support of our dedicated team mates and our wonderful clients.  We thank you for helping make us one of the largest family run and owned Insurance Brokers in Queensland.

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