As part of the ‘Riverside BIA: 40 Years, 40 Stories’ series, we’re putting a spotlight on a long-time Riverside BIA member and community pillar Baird MacGregor Insurance Brokers LP. Behind their impressive facade there is a bustling team and lots of personality and community-oriented action taking place and we’re pleased to help share their story.
Originally formed in 1979, Baird MacGregor Insurance Brokers LP eventually relocated from downtown Toronto and purchased their Riverside building at 825 Queen Street East in 1988. The company has over 40 years of history supporting individuals and the community. At the helm of the company is President and CEO Philomena Comerford, a woman with an outstanding career and a proven leader who is equally compassionate about her employees as she is about her clients.
Like the eclectic Riverside community itself, Baird MacGregor has grown to include some unique features. For example, the second floor of the firm’s office – the 100 year-old building at 825 Queen Street East – includes a 1950s-themed diner complete with leather booths, a jukebox and lunch counter. The diner serves as employee lunchroom and venue. Furthermore, the brokerage is 85 members strong, with many long-time employees who now have the opportunity to have their children work alongside them. In fact, an example of this familial workplace relationship is Philomena Comerford herself and her son Dylan Luft.
Philomena shared more about the firm’s long- time ties to Riverside and what the company stands for.
(Q &A) with Riverside BIA and Philomena Comerford:
Tell us what you’d like the neighborhood to know about your company.
Baird MacGregors Insurance Brokers LP are not the traditional insurance broker. The firm has a long track record of success through caring for its clients, strong family ties and taking the time to have fun. Employees at Baird MacGregor have to be people persons. This is furthermore exemplified in Baird MacGregor’s long tradition of giving, whether it is to clothing drives, Interval House or the Fred Victor Centre, or the Riverside BIA’s annual holiday cheer event Light Up Riverside. It’s all about giving back, a virtue that Baird MacGregor values very deeply.
You’ve been in this neighborhood for nearly 30 years – what’s made your firm stay here in Riverside?
As an east-ender myself, much like many of the associates at the firm, Riverside has always felt like home and from the start it suited the firm’s ‘outside of the box’ character. Originally, Riverside was a rougher neighbourhood but we saw its potential as a place that was changing for the better and we were right. Today, Riverside is a vibrant, colorful and artistic neighborhood that has an eclectic feel to it. It’s a bit of an oasis outside of the city. The area is convenient considering its closeness to downtown and major highways so it was not a difficult choice to settle here. Finally, we have invested a lot in the neighbourhood, and in 2015 our building (825 Queen Street East) turned 100 years old – it has become an important part of our identity.
What is a fun fact people may not know about Baird MacGregor Insurance LP?
One of the more unknown parts of our firm is the 1950s-themed diner as well as the gym on our second floor. Also, our building has a long history – it turned 100 years old in 2015. One neat addition is our Art Deco front door, designed and installed by my brothers (Comerford Architectural).
What is your favourite part about the work that you do?
The relationships we build with clients, that is: supporting people in times of need, being of value to them, and earning their trust. The feeling of helping others is unmatched, and being able to do that must be part of your DNA in order to work here.