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Lykes Insurance, once part of the Lykes Bros. business empire, sold to Tampa-based Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners

Tampa insurance brokerage and risk management company Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners has bought Lykes Insurance, formed in 1925 as part of the wide-ranging Lykes Bros. agribusiness empire. (Times files)
Published Apr. 10

TAMPA — Tampa insurance brokerage and risk management company Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners has bought Lykes Insurance, formed in 1925 as part of the wide-ranging Lykes Bros. agribusiness empire.

Terms of the deal, which closed on March 13, were not disclosed.

The buyer, which goes by BKS-Partners, has more than 300 employees in offices throughout the Southeastern United States. Lykes Insurance, one of Florida's oldest commercial insurance agencies, has 50-plus employees in downtown Tampa, Fort Myers and Orlando.

No layoffs are expected as the companies consolidate their operations. BKS-Partners is telling clients of Lykes that they will continue to work with the same people who have been servicing their accounts.

Over the next few months the Lykes Insurance name will go away, and the combined firm will be known through the BKS-Partners brand. Lykes Insurance's downtown Tampa office is expected to move to BKS-Partners' West Shore headquarters within about three months.

The deal marks the latest divestment of a closely held family business that once included 27 wholly owned subsidiaries and affiliated companies. Dr. Howell Tyson Lykes and his seven sons started with 500 acres near Brooksville and formed Lykes Bros. Inc. in 1900. The company went into juice-processing in the 1940s. At its peak, Lykes Bros. made money from shipping, banking, natural gas, ranching, meat packing, fertilizer and insurance. The Lykes themselves have long been one of Tampa's most prominent families, with members' names on local streets, buildings and educational institutions throughout Hillsborough County.

Today, Lykes Bros. still owns 610,000 acres in Florida and Texas, and its lines of business include cattle, citrus, farming, forestry, land and water resources, and recreational hunting. Lykes Insurance, headed by prominent Tampa businessman John Brabson until his retirement in late 2015, was a relatively small part of the larger Lykes conglomerate.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Lykes Insurance chief John Brabson to retire after four decades in business community

Both BKS-Partners and Lykes offer personal and commercial risk management as well as employee benefits services. Lykes also has a strong presence in the construction and agriculture service sectors.

"We believe the business and cultural combination of our respective teams will result in terrific alchemy for the combined firm," BKS-Partners founding partner Lowry Baldwin said in an announcement on Tuesday. He praised Lykes for its "competitive fervor," technical acumen and consummate professionalism, while company president Trevor Baldwin said BKS-Partners has always seen Lykes as a "friendly competitor."

The transaction is the latest in a series of acquisitions and partnerships for BKS-Partners, which in 2018 expanded into northeastern Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Texas. BKS-Partners was founded in 2006 by Lowry Baldwin, Elizabeth Krystyn, and Laura Sherman, and operates under a holding company, Baldwin Risk Partners, that has more than 600 employees and handles other insurance products and services.

"We're very excited to blend these two storied and dynamic agencies together," Lykes CEO and president Bill Taulbee said in a statement released through BKS-Partners.

"Our two groups share a common philosophy around the right way to serve our clients and communities'" Lykes Insurance director of operations Jeremy Miller said. "Together, we will be even more capable of holistically enhancing our services and delivering on our promises to our stakeholders."

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Contact Richard Danielson at rdanielson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times

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