Taking over an established company can be a daunting task at any age, and in 1999 that’s exactly the position a young, 28-year-old T. Marshall Sadd found himself in.
As the great grandson of the founder of Lloyd Sadd Insurance Brokers Ltd., Sadd has immersed in the family business for most of his life, joining the firm in 1991 after graduating from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Arts in economics. When his father retired as CEO in 1999, Sadd bought the company. Subsequently, his father moved away, and Sadd suddenly found himself at the head of a burgeoning company but with little experience running it.
Convinced he could grow the company into something special, he was able to find guidance through organizations like the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), which enables business leaders to learn from each other in order to grow and become more successful.
“I found great support [in] the Entrepreneurs’ Organization,” Sadd says. “There were a lot of guys in there … and they were just entrepreneurs and business owners that you could meet with, learn from, share your experiences and your challenges and get support from.”
With the advice of seasoned entrepreneurs to back him up, Sadd was able to commit to the vision he’d had for the company from the beginning. Moving away from the company’s general, scattered model, he concentrated its efforts on risk management services, and had it become more specialized in sectors such as construction and manufacturing. He’s taken the company from 20 people to 120 people, and expanded to 23 shareholders Alberta-wide during his 14 years as CEO.
As the company has grown over the years, you can see the impact that Sadd’s involvement in the EO has had—particularly in his decision to remain an independent company.
“I think it was interesting that [former Stantec President and CEO] Tony Franceschini was the one who encouraged me to stay independent, even though he was a guy who took his company public and did lots of acquisitions,” Sadd recalls. “His best advice to me was [that] a great company is one that can drive organic sales and remain independent. So that’s always something that’s stuck with me.”
Sadd heeded his advice, and today, Lloyd Sadd Insurance Brokers is one of the largest and last independent insurance brokerages remaining in Alberta. It’s one of the things he’s most proud of, since most companies that size in the industry end up selling out to larger firms.
While there have been opportunities to stray from Edmonton, Sadd’s appreciation of the city and the way it’s treated him has always been one of the main reasons he’s stayed. He believes Edmonton’s relationship-based business community and the willingness of business leaders to share their experiences with newcomers is one of the greatest things Edmonton has to offer.
“Edmonton business leaders will always give you time, whether it’s Tony Franceschini or Al Olson or any of these guys who’ve built and run businesses here,” Sadd says. “[They’re] helpful and will give the time to community and business leaders to be supportive of Edmonton.”
Knowing what a major motivator these men were for him, Sadd looks forward to giving back as a mentor himself when the time comes.
“I’ll definitely play my part when I’m called upon,” he promises.