Michigan Company Continues Expansion — Celebrates 40th Anniversary


FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich., Oct.29, 2009 — Burns & Wilcox continues on its growth path by increasing its presence on the national stage through strategic acquisitions.

Headquartered in Farmington Hills, Burns & Wilcox, has grown to be the largest and most successful specialty and wholesale insurance firm in the nation, and is celebrating its 40th anniversary. It is nationally recognized for its insurance underwriting and brokerage expertise in specialty lines, professional and commercial liability, property, and personal lines.

“During these challenging times, we are pleased to have the infrastructure and solid resources to continue our growth path organically and through strategic acquisitions,” said Alan Jay Kaufman, Chairman, President and CEO of Burns & Wilcox.

Burns & Wilcox is a family owned business, founded in 1969 by the late Herbert W. Kaufman with a single office in Southfield, and fewer than 20 employees.  Today, Kaufman’s son, Alan serves as Chairman, President and CEO overseeing nearly 800 employees in 37 offices within 24 states and one office in London, England.

In addition to the Farmington Hills, MI office, Burns & Wilcox has offices in Birmingham, AL; Scottsdale, AZ; Little Rock, AK; Fresno, Los Angeles, Modesto, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, CA; Denver, CO; Daytona Beach, Tampa, FL; Atlanta ,GA; Chicago, IL; Indianapolis, IN; Overland Park, KS; Baton Rouge, Monroe, New Orleans, LA; Baltimore, MD; St. Paul, MN; St. Louis, MO; Las Vegas, Reno, NV; Parsippany, NJ; Albuquerque, NM; Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville, Morehead City, NC; Cleveland, OH; Pittsburgh, PA; Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, TX; Salt Lake City, UT; and Milwaukee, WI.

“When my father started this company he was part of an insurance innovation.  He saw the potential for growth in the specialty insurance market and built a strong foundation,” Kaufman said.

In 1996, Alan Kaufman acquired the formerly public company led by his late father, in a “going private transaction” when the premium volume was $250 million.  Through a series of strategic mergers, acquisitions, and technology advancements Kaufman has grown the business to nearly $900 million in revenues.

Under Alan’s stewardship, the H.W. Kaufman Financial Group, the parent company of Burns & Wilcox, developed into a broad-based specialty insurance services firm.  He created a re-insurance division, purchased insurance companies that underwrite risks, expanded its reach and opened the firm’s first international office.

“We are specialty insurance professionals for insurance agents and their insureds.  The depth and breath of our products and services makes us unique in this sector,” Kaufman said.

Employee Training Initiatives Key Ingredient to Future

As Kaufman looks ahead, he sees using technology as a vital instrument to increase his firm’s overall effectiveness and success.

In addition to offering new sales channels via the Internet, Burns & Wilcox is the first in the industry to offer a 24/7 web based corporate university for its employees.

“Pioneering this web based university has set us apart from the competition in the insurance industry,” Kaufman said.

Since the launch of the Kaufman Institute in 2007, more than 700 employees have completed courses.  Recently, the curricula has been revamped to include 140 courses, 300 books and 100 videos ranging from business skills, to marketing and sales, to management, to customer service, to leadership. The new courses are both proprietary and customized.

“With a dispersed workforce and limited ways to deliver training effectively, we now can offer personalized courses for our employees in creative learning environment,” Kaufman said.

In addition to offering employee training, the Kaufman Family Foundation established the Herbert W. Kaufman Memorial Scholarship in 2001 through the specialty insurance trade organization call the National Association of Professional Surplus Lines Offices (NAPSLO).  The scholarship fund awards annual grants to exceptional college students who pursue insurance careers.

Education is a priority for Kaufman.  He serves on the board of directors of Walsh College in Troy, MI, the American Technion Society (ATS) in New York which provides critical support to the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and Hillel Day School and Adat Shalom Synagogue both in Farmington Hills, MI.

He is a major donor to Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in New York and the Cranbrook-Kingswood Schools in Bloomfield Hills, MI. In addition, he is a patron of numerous Detroit area cultural and community service organizations.

Kaufman received his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University in finance and insurance, and earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Notre Dame Law School.  He also studied international law in England at the University of London, London School of Economics.

Kaufman also is founding senior partner of Kaufman, Payton & Chapa, a Michigan-based law firm. Kaufman, Payton & Chapa has earned the respect of corporations and the insurance industry as the result of its successful representation of insurance companies on regional, national and international levels.

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