IMA Financial Group, a Denver-headquartered national insurance brokerage firm specializing in property and casualty insurance, employee benefits and surety bonds, completed its acquisition of ESS NexTier Insurance Group, a similarly structured practice with four offices throughout Pennsylvania.

“Our long-term growth strategy hinges on partnering with highly successful firms like ESS NexTier that add to our expertise and share our ideals,” IMA Financial Group Chairman and CEO Rob Cohen said, in a statement. “Despite current economic conditions, IMA continues to focus on its long-term strategy and unwavering commitment to building an industry-leading team.”

The acquisition expands IMA’s energy practice. ESS NexTier adds natural gas capabilities to IMA’s existing expertise including onshore and offshore operations and international exploration. It also establishes a Northeastern presence for IMA, which has its main offices in Colorado, Kansas, Texas and Michigan.

ESS NexTier’s 35 current employees and its four locations across Pennsylvania – in Butler, Pittsburgh, and two in Kittanning – will continue operations as IMA | ESS. In the new organization, Charles “Chip” Echnoz will serve as president of IMA | ESS – Pittsburgh, Rick Putnam as senior executive vice president of IMA | ESS and Watson Barker as executive vice president of IMA | ESS.

“We are joining two companies, but the benefits to our clients and teams are much more than one plus one,” Echnoz stated. “Together, we create remarkable bench strength in our core business areas and a wider offering to better service our existing clients.”