Philadelphia-based insurance firm sold to major company, owner shifts focus to paying success forward

Throughout his career, Steven Scott Bradley sought to serve as an example, building relationships across racial barriers.

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Steven Scott Bradley, CEO of Bradley and Bradley Associates. (Cherri Gregg/WHYY)

Steven Scott Bradley, CEO of Bradley and Bradley Associates. (Cherri Gregg/WHYY)

Succession planning has been Steven Scott Bradley’s focus for the past several years.  He’s successfully run Bradley & Bradley Associates, a small Philadelphia-based commercial insurance firm, for more than 20 years.

Now, in his 60s, Bradley said he realized retirement, while not on the immediate horizon, is becoming a destination that’s steadily coming into view.  His son, a recent graduate of St Joseph’s University, said he didn’t see insurance in his future, so Bradley had to take a different route if his firm was to live on.

“The next option was build it, have the contacts, and build the reputation so you can be purchased,” said Bradley. “I was fortunate that after two opportunities that One Digital stepped to the table.”

OneDigital, a leading insurance brokerage and HR consulting firm, acquired Bradley & Bradley last month.  It generates more than $200 million dollars a year in revenue and has been named to the Fortune 5000 list of companies each year for the past 14, according to the company’s website.

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“They’re [OneDigital] really committed to diversity and equity and inclusion,” said Bradley, “so it was a great opportunity for me personally, and it’s a great opportunity for me to bring some new people into the industry.”

Bradley is all about diversity and inclusion. He’s the former chairman for the African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, and in 2023 was honored with the Vanguard Award for his many years of service.  He’s also on the board of directors for WHYY and the Philadelphia Foundation and said his focus has been on empowering Black and brown businesses to grow.

“We still struggle with growth and being able to compete in this marketplace,” he said. “Being able to have a succession plan so that if something happens the business will still be able to go forward.”

Bradley sought to serve as an example, building relationships across racial barriers, throughout his career in insurance. Bradley said those connections put him in rooms and at tables that helped him grow.

“Insurance is not a very diverse industry,” noted Bradley. “When I got involved in the industry, I had a lot of people that didn’t look like me who said, ‘Hey, Steven, you have talent, you have potential,’ and they coached me, they managed me, mentored me, and taught me social skills and what to do outside of the office.”

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He attributes his long-running success to the diversity of relationships he built over the years.  At the start, Bradley said he understood the “technical” part of insurance, but the networks were harder to break into.  Those networks, Bradley believes, are ultimately what got him a competitive offer from OneDigital.

“When I was ready to sell, those same people introduced me to key people and said, ‘Hey, he has a very profitable business, you need to look at this guy’ and that’s when I became part of OneDigital family.”

The sale of his small Black-owned business is a big deal, given OneDigital’s size.  But Bradley said it’s also a big deal for people he serves, which are mostly African American owned businesses, nonprofits, and commercial entities. He believes this new relationship will bring more competitive insurance prices and services to the community he serves.

“We’ll bring resources,” Bradley said, adding he will ensure there is support for the African American Chamber of Commerce.

As for his legacy, Bradley wants the focus to be on wealth building and paying it forward.  He said insurance has been a vehicle for bringing both to the African American community.

“Not only just for current generations, but future generations,” he said, “As a career, it allows you to have a lot of freedom; and allows you to be very civically engaged, very politically engaged, and be a leader in your community.”

Leading by example is what Bradley said he hopes to represent. His leadership and connections now head to OneDigital, where he plans to continue growing contacts in the region — and using the time he has left working by paying it forward.

“I stand on the shoulders of a lot of other people that came before me, and I just took advantage of opportunities,” said Bradley, “Now I want to mentor and coach so that the next generation can have the same opportunity.”

Editor’s note: Steven Scott Bradley is on the board of directors for WHYY.

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