USI Insurance Services Acquires Employee Benefits Advisor Carolina First Associates

The acquisition reinforces the firm’s presence as the premier middle market insurance brokerage and consulting firm in the Southeast region.

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USI Insurance Services (Valhalla, N.Y.) has acquired Carolina First Associates, LLC (Hickory, N.C.), an employee benefits insurance advisor located in Hickory, North Carolina. USI characterizes the acquisition as extending its presence as the premier middle market insurance brokerage and consulting firm in the Southeast region. Carolina First Associates and its employees will remain at the current Hickory location. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

James W. Dunn, USI Southeast regional CEO, USI.

James W. Dunn, USI Southeast regional CEO, USI.

“Since 1980, Carolina First Associates has built its reputation on helping businesses navigate the intricacies of evaluating and purchasing employee benefit plans, wellness programs and employee education and communication strategies,” James W. Dunn, USI Southeast regional CEO, USI. “Their consultative approach to cultivating long-term relationships aligns perfectly with the USI ONE Advantage and we are thrilled to welcome Sam and his team to USI. We look forward to continuing to invest in the Carolinas and to bringing our game changing approach for delivering solutions to clients, associates and local communities.”

Expanded Suite of Solutions

“Our depth of experience in the ever-changing era of healthcare reform has helped us to understand and overcome the high costs and limited options faced by most businesses,” Samuel E. Rhodes, principal and owner, Carolina First Associates. “With this acquisition, our clients will continue to enjoy this high touch, specialized customer care, but now they can tap into USI’s expanded suite of employee benefits, retirement consulting and personal risk solutions. We are excited to be joining a nationally recognized company and to playing an important role in growing USI’s footprint in this strategic growth marketplace.”

USI positions itself as a leading local and national insurance brokerage and consulting firm, delivering property and casualty, employee benefits, personal risk and retirement solutions throughout the United States. USI has over $1.0 billion in annual revenue, employs more than 4,400 professionals and operates out of 140 local offices serving every state. USI attributes its status as insurance brokerage and consulting to its USI ONE Advantage, which the firm describes as an interactive platform that integrates proprietary and innovative client solutions, networked local resources and enterprise-wide collaboration to deliver customized results with positive, bottom line impact.

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Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For nearly two decades, he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at or (503) 936-2803.

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