The Milby Group, based out of Lancaster, Ohio, has Anna McMillan at the helm as its president. Anna is a 43-year auto industry veteran who first began working with NAE/NWAN 15 years ago, forging a relationship that has continued to grow and blossom with Portfolio.
During the course of her tenure, she has grappled with many challenges. At the moment, the biggest challenges Anna faces include supply issues and mergers and acquisitions. Anna explains there is not much that can be done to overcome the supply issues the entire automotive industry is experiencing. However, she says her team can “coach so that your F&I team does the best job they can with the customer that’s right in front of them.”
Coping with consolidation is a much tougher problem to tackle. “It’s difficult to keep a store once they merge or become acquired. They are typically bought out by a group that already has a relationship” with another reinsurance provider. Or, in some cases, Anna and The Milby Group find themselves in the No. 2 position with a dealer. That does not deter Anna.
“Our philosophy has always been we are OK with being No. 2 because No. 1 will inevitably stub their toe, or the dealership will outgrow them at some point. And if you service them well as No. 2, you will become their first phone call when that happens.”
The dealers Anna works with also experience their own unique set of challenges, some of which include “issues with the manufacturers, employee retention and forcing the EV market — especially outside of a metro area.” Anna ensures The Milby Group stays at the forefront of those challenges, ready to help dealers find the best solutions. “We are an agency that is very hands-on. We have scheduled, consistent visits with our dealers, always reporting back via email or in-person the things we are doing to help them overcome problems and be successful.”
Speaking on the issue of employee retention, Anna notes, “Employees now want a work/life balance. Dealers need to meet that demand in order to have the floor covered at all times. Retention can also be an ongoing problem if the dealer doesn’t have the right culture and the right hiring practices.”
The Milby Group’s dealers sell a variety of Portfolio products, but “vehicle service contracts are always a mainstay,” Anna says. “The rest of the Portfolio products across the board usually follow once you have the VSC in place.”
The Milby Group is a smaller operation, currently employing just three sales reps, including Anna’s son, Randy Johnson. In 2024, Anna plans to expand the business and hire additional sales reps. She is also looking forward to taking on “good” new business in the upcoming year. “An advantage to being in business for a while is that we can choose what clients we wish to serve,” she says.
Free time away from the demands of running an agency can often be hard to come by. Health and wellness are of great importance to her. Anna very much enjoys her daily walks. “I walk 15,000 steps per day, 5,000 before breakfast.” Another favorite pastime is ballroom dancing. She loves watching the grace, poise and dignity of dancers in competition; however, Anna dances just for fun.
Anna says she has been blessed with a tightknit group of long-term friends who are like family, and they often traverse the globe together. “I like to take at least four good vacations a year,” Anna says, excitedly. Over the past year and a half, she has traveled to Ireland, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Greece. She also traveled with her very close friend and Portfolio board member, Kelly Price, to Israel. She is looking forward to yet another trip with Kelly in a few months, embarking on a spiritual retreat in Cabo San Lucas. An excursion to Italy is also in the planning stages for 2024.
Despite the fact that she loves globetrotting, and she is building the business to pass on as a legacy to her son one day, Anna is not planning to retire anytime soon. “I like what I do. This is what I shine at — fostering relationships.”