Frank Polenta recently embarked on a bold journey, embracing the challenge of working as an agency principal. In August 2022, the Western Pennsylvania native founded Keystone Dealer Development to serve dealers in his home state and Ohio.

“Our clients are generally family owned and operated dealerships,” Frank says, noting he entered the dealership world while still in college. “I started off in retail in 2007. I worked in the service department and then on the sales floor. I kept moving up over the years.”

An F&I trainer brought him out of retail and onto the provider side of the business. Frank worked for a “big box” dealer services provider for seven years before striking out on his own. At every stage, he says, relationship building was key.

“Business is really done between people who are likeminded and who like one another. I would not be here today if it wasn’t for the relationships I carry.”

Frank acknowledges Keystone is in its infancy and faces many of the challenges unique to start-ups. However, partnering with Portfolio has eased that burden. “Portfolio offers a strong support network. I have a designated account executive and dedicated client relationship managers who are a phone call away, making the challenges of being a one-man show significantly easier,” he says.

Frank’s dealers also face their fair share of problems, including compressed back ends and fluctuating bookouts with lenders. He believes the solutions come down to consistency and process.

“There are a lot of dealerships that do make profit in spite of themselves,” says Frank. “But instilling a correct process — one that makes sense, that we can implement at a dealership — is key.”

In a post-pandemic world, Frank sees signs of a “race to the bottom” as the market reverts to the invoice-less-incentives model. He knows dealers rely on agents to help differentiate themselves when competition is fierce. This is another reason why partnering with Portfolio has been crucial for Frank.

“Anything our competitors in the market have, Portfolio has already — or, if not, we are nimble enough to create something,” he says. “Portfolio’s reinsurance platform is second to none. Dealers see this as an added benefit as far as control, flexibility and access to their money. I don’t believe another provider has such a strong platform. That is a huge benefit to us as agents.”

Outside of work, Frank enjoys spending time with his family, including his wife Lauren and their three daughters. He thoroughly enjoys classic cars and boating. Since he cannot partake in those hobbies during the winter months, he looks forward to the day when he and his family can move to sunnier, warmer climes.

“Family is my ‘why,’” Frank says. “They are why I get up in the morning and do everything that I do.”