When Ohioans hear the Elk family name, they typically think of the personal injury firm headquartered in Cleveland. But siblings Lexy and Ryan Elk, children of Art Elk, who is managing partner of Elk & Elk, are determined to make their name in the insurance industry.
In 2018, they were introduced to several Nationwide insurance agents that needed a succession plan after the Columbus-based insurance company decided to transition to being a fully independent agency carrier, with 99% of Nationwide’s former agents transitioning to its independent agency channel. This transition was completed July 1, 2020.
Inspired by the potential of creating something new, Lexy and Ryan decided to merge nine agencies to create ProtectALL Insurance, an independent insurance agency with offices in Mayfield Heights, Cleveland, Columbus and Dublin, in affiliation with Associates Insurance Services. Ryan and Lexy Elk also have roles at AIS, which has a DBA, or doing business as, for ProtectALL Insurance as its marketing and branding arm.
Two years later, the ProtectALL brand officially launched in March and currently has a book of business over $20 million. ProtectALL’s team is rounded out by Edwin “Ed” S. Nail II as COO and Charles (Chip) Nail as habitational specialist.
“This opportunity is something very different from what we are used to, and we’re bringing both of our expertise into this venture and combining it to make something unique here in Ohio and the local insurance agency industry,” said Ryan Elk, 31 of Columbus, who serves as the company’s principal agent, chief marketing officer and executive vice president.
Lexy Elk, 29, of Pepper Pike, and ProtectALL’s COO, said, “There is a backbone of all of these exclusive agents and when they told everyone to merge and go independent, a lot of those people needed a home. We thought then to merge it all, and we adopted all of the staff that came with each agency. Nine agencies with nine different ways of doing things, so the past year has been a focus on people, process and technology.”
Lexy Elk, who worked in the marketing department of Elk & Elk, said ProtectALL has “lofty marketing goals.” She received her MBA while living in California and was hired at a start-up following graduation.
“We’re in a market that hasn’t been tapped at all,” she said. “When you go to market, you only get one shot – so we spent the last year and a half building the foundation, tying up our intellectual property into ProtectALL. We plan on starting in Ohio, and gauging the potential in expanding it to other markets throughout the country.”
Ryan Elk went to art school and is also a working artist. His sister said his artistic ability has been priceless in building ProtectALL.
“I am not creative where I can sit down and draw something awesome, but Ryan can do that,” Lexy Elk said. “It’s the little things that bring this whole thing together. It’s being present on social media, and our sister Hilary is also helping with the social media presence. People pay big bucks to consult someone else for that. But to have it available in-house, it’s invaluable.”
Calling her brother “the yin to my yang,” Lexy said the pair work under “great synergy.”
In the same breath, Ryan said he felt fortunate to have the opportunity to build something with his younger sister.
“We complement each other very well, and it’s a new challenge every day,” he said. “This endeavor that we are experiencing together is quite an incredible thing. I know we are helping build something truly unique to this industry. When it comes to the client experience, that is where we will set ourselves apart.”
Thinking to the future of ProtectALL, the siblings said they hope to turn a corner in the industry towards a more personal experience.
“Also, interstellar and intergalactic domination as well,” Ryan Elk said, laughing. “But, seriously, we would love to see this agency have a huge footprint throughout Ohio and the country as an ultimate goal.”