Congratulations on your 1/1/14 appointment to President of Markel Wholesale. What excites you most about your new role?
I've been connected to the company, either as a customer or a respectful competitor, for close to 20 years and I’ve long admired the Markel franchise. Most companies I know of have some sort of vision and value statement but Markel is one of the few that truly lives it in the “Markel Style." I'm thrilled to be part of this team of talented professionals and I look forward to continuing the excellence.
You have been heavily involved in the Alterra integration to Markel. How has the integration gone, from your perspective?
I really don’t think the process could have gone any better than it has to this point. As it relates to our client-facing initiatives, the integration has been seamless. Many brokers have commented on how painless it's been from their perspective. We have some more work to do internally, important behind the scenes effort-but we’re well on our way. The positive ‘can do’ attitude of everyone involved, not to mention the warm welcome, from the outset has been paramount to the favorable transition.
How is the wholesale team structured here at Markel?
We hear it said often that ‘‘insurance is a relationship business.” We not only support that adage but we’re invested in it. That’s one of the reasons why our underwriting and production teams are arranged in five regions across the U.S. in 10 offices. The regional approach allows us to better understand our wholesale customers’ needs and gets our decision makers and underwriters closer to the point of sale.
How did you get to this point in your career?
I entered the industry right out of college and have experience in most segments of the business. From a standard company underwriter early on, to a retail agent for over 10 years; then as a wholesale broker for a number of years, and most recently working on the company side in various senior management roles. I’ve had the good fortune to work with some incredible people through the years. Through those partnerships we’ve been able to build profitable businesses that have sustained over the long haul.
What has been your biggest disappointment?
Looking back there were clearly times when I could have pushed a little harder or took more time to think through an issue, but I consider those learning opportunities that help shape you going forward.
How do you keep it fresh after 32 years? What motivates and excites you about the sector?
I really love what I do. Not everyone is privileged with knowing exactly where they belong, but I do. Everything I have done to this point has prepared me for my new role. While every segment of our industry is interesting, I think some of the best opportunities for creativity and innovation exist within Wholesale.
What is the best piece of advice you have received during your career?
It was my first day on the job and the branch manager came over to my desk to welcome me to the company. He told me the only thing that ever matters in business is your integrity and your credibility; never do anything to jeopardize them. He probably said that hundreds of times throughout his career but it really stuck with me. I know I’ve passed that forward a time or two.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to someone that’s new to the insurance industry?
Continue your education and secure all the designations in your industry. Find a mentor to help guide you through the maze of our industry and never give up!
Tell us a bit about your life outside the office. How do you like to spend your leisure time?
My biggest passion outside of work is spending time with my family, golf, and the Cleveland Browns. I know that some might question my intelligence as respects the Browns, but I’m nothing if not loyal. My father introduced me to golf when I was a teenager, and what a great sport. I have many lifelong friendships that began with a round of golf.
What is your greatest achievement in your personal life?
I am proud to have raised two beautiful children who inspire me every day. Kalie and Bryan are smart and driven but also compassionate. Both have big personalities. They are a perfect combination of the best qualities of both me and my wife, Toni, whom I met when we were college sophomores.
Given complete freedom of choice, where would you like to spend next week?
Without question, our new favorite place is Lake Keowee in the Upstate region of western South Carolina. It’s a pristine mountain lake with breathtaking views, plenty of activities, and golf.