Bill Thomas of Brightway Insurance has come a long way since growing up in Oyster Bay, Long Island. Back then, his goal was to fly.
“I became a commercial pilot and was trying to fly for the airlines,” Thomas recalled. “Unfortunately, or fortunately, the airlines were furloughing pilots, so I went to school, to Queens College and St. John’s University Law School, became an attorney and worked as a real estate attorney in New York City.”
It wasn’t long before he felt the lure of Florida’s sunshine.
“Eventually, I started a factoring business, which I could run from anywhere, so I moved to Florida where my family and my wife’s family were living,” Thomas explained. “I found Wellington because I am a pilot and wanted to live at the Aero Club so I could fly my airplane.”
While living in Florida, Thomas took on some work as an attorney doing closings for business brokers and eventually opened his own business brokerage.
“It looked like more fun that working as an attorney,” he said. “I did so many sales as a business broker that I wrote and published a book, The Six-Figure Business Broker, which sells on Amazon. It is designed to teach new agents how to sell businesses.”
After years of helping others with their businesses, he found himself interested in the insurance industry.
“After selling businesses for 10 years, I started buying and selling them myself,” Thomas said. “After a year of researching insurance agencies to buy or to start, I decided that I would purchase a franchise.”
Through his research, he liked what he learned about Brightway Insurance.
“I chose the Brightway Insurance franchise because, after meeting with other agency owners and the principals of the company, I decided that they were a well-run organization, and they provided superior services to their customers,” Thomas said. “They are also fast-growing and financially strong. This is the type of company that I’d like to associate with.”
Thomas uses his experience and knowledge as an attorney to provide customers with quality advice and concierge service.
“I say concierge because I’m very much hands-on and would rather handle my customers myself than hire agents and hand customers off to them,” Thomas explained. “When you call my agency, you speak with me and get my background and experience. You get concierge service at regular prices.”
Insurance can be complicated, especially in the Wellington area. Thomas said that you can have estate-type homes, horse farms, homes with airplane hangars, agricultural businesses and homes that are so far away from a fire station that they are difficult to insure.
“I’ve developed relationships with different underwriters to be able to handle these homes,” he said. “The difference is that you can’t quote this business online in minutes, you have to research the house, fill out a paper application and then call the underwriter to explain the circumstances. You also have to have knowledge of insurance policy contracts and underwriting guidelines. At the end of the day, customers trust my advice and that I’m doing the best thing for them.”
If Thomas has a specialty other than an unswerving dedication to quality service, it would be horse farms and barns.
“I do a lot of commercial liability for horse barns and shows, too. I also enjoy handling commercial insurance because of the challenge,” Thomas said. “It’s similar to insuring houses in the western communities. You have to deal directly with an underwriter who will work with you to get the policy written correctly.”
Currently between planes, his most recent was a Beechcraft Baron for 15 years, Thomas has been married for 25 years to his wife Aleyka and has a daughter Kelly, who has graduated from the University of Central Florida and is starting a job as a flight attendant with United Airlines in January.
As a pilot, Thomas has traveled everywhere in America and hasn’t found many places that are as pleasant to live as Wellington.
“I love the horse shows, polo and being able to fly my plane to the Bahamas on weekends,” he said. “I also love the people. There is a wonderful sense of community here. You don’t find that in most places. It’s no wonder it’s such a sought-after winter destination.”
For additional information about Bill Thomas’ Brightway Insurance agency, call (561) 614-1122, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.brightwaybillthomas.com.