North Bay Business Journal

Monday, February 3, 2014, 6:20 am

Insurance: Burnham Benefits adds staff, partners with trucking group

EPIC acquires two firms; Fagundes joins Wells Fargo Insurance; Focus Insurance moves downtown


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    Dan Verel, Business Journal Staff Reporter Edward Gow joined Burnham Benefits Insurance Services’ San Rafael office, which the Irvine-based firm opened about a year ago as part of an expansion effort throughout Northern California.

    Edward Gow

    Edward Gow

    Mr. Gow has held previous positions at Alliant Insurance, Andreini & Company and AFIS Insurance. In San Rafael, he will focus on leveraging his relationships with local schools, serving as a resource for them in navigating health care reform. His expertise also includes captive benefits programs. He received a B.S. business administration from San Francisco State University. He also received the Group Benefits Associate designation from the Wharton School and the International Foundation of Employee Benefits. In addition, he is a member of the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists.

    Burnham also announced a consultative partnership with California Trucking Association Health and Welfare Trust, an independent health care benefits buying pool sponsored by the California Trucking Association. In this new role, Mr. Burnham said he will focus on supporting the agencies that sell the trust’s benefits products and helping the organization’s leadership to better manage the program.


    EPIC Insurance has made two significant acquisitions since the new year, the latest coming in the form of certain assets from Altus Specialty Group, a Boston-based risk management firm.

    That acquisition comes on the heels of the company’s early January announcement that it acquired The McCart Group, an Atlanta-based broker with a significant presence in the southeast U.S.

    The San Mateo-based brokerage, which has a sizable presence in the North Bay with its Petaluma branch, has embarked on an aggressive acquisition strategy after The Carlyle Group, a Washington, D.C.-based asset manager, purchased a majority stake in EPIC. At that time, EPIC — short for Edgewood Partners Insurance Center — said it was looking to triple its annual revenues of about $80 million within five years.

    North Bay Principal Victor McKnight said EPIC would similarly seek such acquisitions across the North Bay as part of its growth strategy.

    “We are looking at a number of other acquisitions in the North Bay and hopefully will be able to announce them soon,” he said. “We’re continually looking to acquire other benefits and property causal agencies both locally and nationally.”

    EPIC had total premium volume of more than $809 million, with more than $494 million in property-casual and nearly $385 million in employee benefits, as of October 2013. EPIC’s North Bay branch had $64 million in premium volume, in property-casual and employee benefits, in 2012.

    In addition to nine locations across California, EPIC now counts operations in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver and New York, with more possible in the future.


    Caryn Fagundes

    Caryn Fagundes

    Caryn Fagundes joined Wells Fargo Insurance in Petaluma as an account executive in the employee benefits department. She was most recently an account manager with Woodruff-Sawyer & Co. in Novato. Prior to Wooddruff-Sawyer, she was human resources benefits administrator for the county of Napa. Ms. Fagundes has been involved with human resources and employee benefits for over 15 years.


    Kara Stewart

    Kara Stewart

    Kara Stewart moved her Focus Insurance Brokerage to a new location in downtown Santa Rosa to the Doyle building on Fourth Street. The office shares the name of her broker/dealer, Portsmouth Financial Services. For more than a decade, Ms. Steward has worked with individuals on overall risk management, including estate planning. She also helps business owners with buy/sell agreements, succession planning and key executive programs. She is the president and principal of Focus and a senior vice president of insurance with Portsmouth.

    Submit items for this column to Staff Writer Dan Verel, dverel@busjrnl.com.

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