Senior vice president and branch manager, Heffernan Insurance Brokers, 201 Second St., Ste. 120, Petaluma 94592, 707-789-3064, www.heffgroup.com
Professional background: 13 years with Chubb & Son insurance company in underwriting, underwriting managing, now will be celebrating 15 years with Heffernan in July of this year. Broker and Branch Manager.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in Finance from Santa Clara University, 1984
Tell us about yourself and your company: I joined Heffernan Insurance Brokers after a long 10-plus-year career at a major insurance company. I chose Heffernan because it is a large regional brokerage firm that is able to offer sophisticated value-added services to clients that helps them drive down their total cost of risk. I knew Mike Heffernan personally and admired that he committed to giving back 5 percent of our pre tax profits to the nonprofit community to ensure that those in need are being cared for by a corporate partner. It makes us one of the largest philanthropists in the Bay Area.
Working for a company that has a commitment to the community and not purely to making a profit resonated so strongly with me, that I knew immediately that I made the right choice to join the firm. We have grown substantially over our humble beginnings almost 25 years ago, going from $1 million in revenues to $80 million. We have had a North Bay team for 23 of those 25 years, starting in Sonoma and for the past nine years, having a staff of 30 in Petaluma.
Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share? In the last year I am proud to say that our North Bay team was again voted to be among the region's Best Places to Work. Each year that we have chosen to participate, we have been honored with this award. Our culture focuses so much on respect for one another and we make an effort to blow off steam together and go have some fun.
In fact, our mission statement is, “Answer the phone and have fun!” We know that if we are responsive to our clients we become partners and more often than not, friends. We can laugh and share life together. We also have fun events with staff throughout the year to create camaraderie and that leads to a sense of becoming family. It really is all about answering the phone and having fun!
What is the achievement you are most proud of? After years of the emotional pain of infertility, I am proudest of adopting our two beautiful children, Katy and John. There are more parenting issues involved in raising adopted children and we have been blessed that they are both so amazing and emotionally healthy. They both embrace how loved they are by us as well as their birth families. We celebrate how lucky they are to have so many more people in this life that love them. That has gone a long way in creating a foundation for emotional health.
What is your biggest challenge today? I think the biggest challenge we face currently is delivering rate increases from insurance carriers, particularly in worker’s compensation. The economy seems to be slowly recovering, but we still have a number of clients facing nominal to flat growth projections and/or having expense challenges. We are adept at bringing a number of resources to bear to help keep rate increases to a minimum, but it is still emotionally difficult to prepare clients and prospects for higher rates, particularly when they just have begun to see the light at the end of the tunnel.