The ‘Go-To’ Broker
Michael Calhoun is my “go-to guy for aerospace-related business,” said the vice president of administration of an aircraft manufacturer. Calhoun’s work, he said, is “extraordinarily creative” and the broker is always available whenever “a peculiar or unusual” issue might arise.
Calhoun, who is also Midwest region manager, took a lead role in negotiating and placing an aviation firm’s comprehensive insurance program after an acquisition by private equity. He also worked closely with an aircraft manufacturer through the development, testing and certification of a new airplane. And he helped a start-up drone manufacturer with a program that satisfied the demands of the company’s key vendor.
“For me, it’s a one-man show,” said Tracy Seabaugh, director of insurance at StandardAero. “I rely on brokers a lot and he has exceeded my expectations. Our last renewal was rather complex and there were some decisions we had to make. There were some tough conversations Mike had to have with underwriters.”
“With Mike,” said Ken Ross, president of One Aviation, “you get much more personalized service than the cookie-cutter approach that many brokers take. He’s very good at creating solutions to save premium dollars and broadening the coverage we originally had.
“As a customer, I am fairly demanding,” Ross said.
“I won’t support somebody who doesn’t really deserve it. Mike really does care about his customers.”
Going Above and Beyond
“There’s an old saying: People can move mountains with their attitudes. Brad always has a tremendous attitude,” said Joseph Seitz, president of Chandelle Investment Corp., speaking about Bradley Meinhardt, who is also managing director of aviation.
Last year, Chandelle contracted to acquire a brand new aircraft, requiring a “substantial amount of coordination,” he said.
“There were so many parties involved. Brad did a yeoman’s job. Even at the last minute there were calls from attorneys associated with the lenders. He just handled it.”
Mike Quinn, CEO of Asia Pacific Airlines Inc. until his recent retirement, said that Meinhardt “has always been particularly attentive to our business even though I think we are probably on the smaller side of his clients. We’ve had any number of insurance issues over the years that he’s been deeply involved with to our benefit. We like him — a lot.”
When the airline recently added a 757 freighter, it required a substantial increase in coverage, and policy changes to comply with the requirements of various airports and agencies, Quinn said. Meinhardt handled the challenges with persistence and poise.
“He is always going above and beyond,” said John Buch, president, Maverick Aviation Group, “and that’s why we have stuck with him and not looked at anyone else.”
Whether it’s familiarizing underwriters with the company, finding gaps in coverage, simplifying the renewal process, attention to detail or being available for questions, Meinhardt “is always there,” Buch said.
Part of the Team
Whether it’s helping with contract negotiations or devising innovative solutions for cutting-edge aerospace applications, Nicholas Pooley gets the job done.
Clients applaud his talent for designing creative risk transfer solutions — even for risks that are still largely experimental.
Armed with considerable aerospace expertise, he works with forward-thinking underwriters that are open to the potential of the projects and agree to provide flexible and competitive coverage solutions.
“To me, the perfect broker is someone who takes time to know your company, to understand it and how we do business, has a great relationship with the markets and is responsive to our risks,” said the senior risk manager of a major technology company.
“As we explore new and innovative technology, it’s incredibly important to have a broker who is engaged and understanding of privacy concerns,” she said.
Karen Kraus, global risk manager of Moog Inc., said Pooley “has been a great support.” Pooley aided her team and the company’s legal department on “some very contentious contract negotiations” as the components company dealt with contract demands from its much-larger customers.
“I view Nick as an extension of our small risk management department. It’s as if he is an employee with us. He pays attention to our company news. Sometimes, he brings things to my attention before anyone else does,” Kraus said.
Taking the Lead
Clients depend on Rich Terlecki to protect their interests.
“He never tries to sell insurance,” said Stephen Duarte, director of fiscal services for Kent County, Mich. “He lays out what the problems are and some things you want to consider. If issues come up, he’s there to give you an honest answer.”
In 2016, the Gerald R. Ford Aviation Authority split off from its prior owner, Kent County, Mich. In a win-win situation, Terlecki kept the authority and county on the same insurance program.
That allowed the authority to secure the coverage it needed, which would have been impossible on a stand-alone basis. In the same stroke, the county took advantage of a highly protected property rate, which it stood to lose if the authority was not part of the program.
For Harold Blattie, executive director of Montana Association of Counties, Terlecki ensured a large claim got paid even though the property schedule listed the wrong address.
“Rich was all over that before we even knew that had happened,” said Blattie.
Terlecki also figured out how to cost-effectively procure builder’s risk and owner’s professional indemnity coverage for two successive billion-dollar capital improvement plans for an aviation authority.
“These were very complicated procurements with lots of coverage issues,” said an authority official.
“Rich took the lead and simplified it from our end.”
A Valuable Colleague
“You don’t get a chance to brag about the good people that often,” said Jim Tolzien, CEO of Eastern Air Lines.
But for Lou Timpanaro, he was more than willing.
“Even though Eastern Air Lines is an old brand, it was only resurrected 18 months ago. As a startup, Lou Timpanaro and Crystal & Company got the insurance markets to embrace us almost from the beginning. He has proven to be as valuable to us as anyone I can think of,” Tolzien said.
More recently, Timpanaro broached the idea of doing an early cancellation and a longer policy term to get ahead of a market that was expected to tighten, he said.
“He was successful reducing premium almost 25 percent and renewing for an 18-month period of time,” Tolzien said. “I could not be happier.”
The CFO of a large private jet operator said Timpanaro “has earned his stripes with us,” noting that the company owns and operates 40-plus aircraft, has a fleet portfolio of nearly 1,000 aircraft and more than 5,000 clients.
Managing the insurance certifications and the required standards and qualifications is “very manually intensive,” he said.
“We are ultra-competitive,” the CFO said. “His peers are constantly trying to convince us to shift our business. The fact that he has retained us for 10 years or longer is a testament to his capabilities.”
Creative and Proactive
Ed Wagner “takes a super creative and proactive approach,” said the vice president of risk management at a national casino operation that operates multiple airplanes as well as drones.
“He took multiple policies, removed some gaps and condensed them into one aviation policy,” she said. “That improved coverage consistency, contract certainty and actually reduced cost in the process and increased my limits.”
“When I have an urgent request, like we have done twice this year, he’s left in the middle of his dinner to go back to his hotel room, pull up the policy and help us out,” she said.
Sally Buxman, senior manager, insurance, corporate, at AECOM, relies on Wagner’s guidance for her engineering company’s “weird aviation-related projects.”
“We use drones to go to remote places in Northwest Canada Territory and even subway tunnels in New York,” she said. “Ed knows the nuances of which carriers and markets and programs are best suited so we can get the broadest coverage at the best price.”
AECOM used to be challenged when allocating insurance premium costs for refurbishing or maintaining aircraft for federal projects, but Wagner created a spreadsheet that gave the company insight into the costs, Buxman said.
Wagner shines, she said, in getting the company the capacity and coverage AECOM needs. He was also able to put together a master program that put many of the company’s projects under one policy.