2017 Power Broker

Retail

Bringing Market Insight to the Table

Catherine Borowski, CIC
Executive Vice President
Arthur J. Gallagher, Glendale, Calif.

As a one-man risk management department, Dan Burseth, global risk manager of Crocs, expects a lot from his brokers. Cathy Borowski and her team at Arthur J. Gallagher consistently exceed those expectations.

“We have offices or operations in 20-plus different countries,” said Burseth, adding that Borowski has been invaluable in “offering solutions and bringing together partners across the globe to work with my different constituents … to get our global program implemented, and bringing in programs and carriers that quite frankly I had not worked with or sometimes even heard of before.”

Scott Woods, senior vice president and general counsel at fashion accessories retailer Charming Charlie, said, “Cathy is excellent at knowing the market, being able to firmly state what the rates are going to be for any particular coverage. She has a very, very good knowledge of market pricing.”

Borowski also recognizes how to utilize her company’s assets in ways that provide her clients with concrete benefits. “Cathy really opened the door for me to utilize their safety consultant, to work with me to not only put together a U.S.-based, OSHA-certified safety program, but … to basically run it and be my safety manager,” said Burseth.

In addition to all that, Borowski also provides exceptional customer service. “Everybody on that team is very responsive,” said Woods. “There’s always an answer, always quick. You never have to follow up twice. … They do what they say and they say what they do.”

Gets the Market on Her Side

Sandy Johannes
Executive Vice President
Aon, Minneapolis

A longtime client announced an aggressive plan to quadruple growth in just four years, massively altering risks and exposures and requiring an asset management strategy overhaul. The company had no dedicated risk manager. The marketplace was skeptical. And the implementation date was in 45 days.

It was a daunting challenge. But Sandy Johannes and her team met it with hard work and a thorough understanding of the situation. They put together a solution that met the client’s cost, coverage and timing needs, and even identified carriers, but there was lingering skepticism. Johannes recognized that the endeavor’s best advocate was the company’s owner and founder, who, while personable and unassuming, had also been declared by “Forbes” to be the richest person in that state.

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Johannes prepped the owner and arranged meetings with the marketplace, establishing direct connections that eased their concerns. With coverage in place, the client embarked on the new growth strategy with such success that they returned to the marketplace six months later for coverage that would allow even faster growth.

Other clients have had similar successes. “Sandy takes the right approach to presenting new ideas and resources to her clients,” said Jennifer Anderson, vice president and treasurer at Vista Outdoor. “She gets to know and understand her clients’ needs and then caters the services she presents to fit the needs. … Sandy is extremely dedicated to her customers.”

A Reputation as an Expert

Rebecca Salagan, CPCU, CIC
Vice President
Aon, Southfield, Mich.

What do you get when you combine knives, trucks, meat, an ever-present threat of e. coli, and a shrinking insurance marketplace? If you’re Wolverine Packing Co., you get a challenge finding appropriately priced insurance coverage. Luckily, that challenge is no match for Senior Broker Rebecca Salagan.

“There’s an art to it and Rebecca does it well,” said Wolverine CFO Brian Bartes. “She does a super job for us.”

“We feel we’re a unique risk area. … We have significant exposure,” Bartes said. “We devote a lot of attention to product safety but ultimately there’s some inherent risk.”

Finding the right underwriters is no easy task. “It’s important, particularly with a company that has some unique risks like we do, to be able to understand the business completely,” said Bartes. “It’s essential that the broker go past just what the company looks like on paper. An underwriter is looking at statistics and information but may not know us. I think for any broker, part of the value they bring is helping those underwriters to understand us better, and it takes industry knowledge to do that.”

It’s also important to have knowledge that extends beyond the traditional marketplace. “They have advised us soundly as to when and at what level self-insurance would be a cost solution for us,” said Mark McCauley, CFO at Dakkota Integrated Systems. “I certainly rely on [Salagan] to be the expert, and based on the solutions she has given us, I have no reason to believe we are dealing with anything but an expert.”

Layering Creative Solutions Together

Kate Simons, ARM
Director
Aon, Chicago

Kate Simons has a reputation for not only achieving great results, but for improving on them.

“Although we already had extremely competitive rates and recently acquired an organization with 150 locations, we set an aggressive premium budget for our 2016 renewal,” said Rob Quast, corporate insurance and captive management, Kroger. “Kate helped lead the effort to restructure the layers in our program and access new direct and reinsurance markets. The team was able to deliver a 17 percent rate reduction over expiring, well past our budget projections.”

Simons combines a deep understanding of her clients’ businesses with an aggressively creative approach to finding the right coverage and the best prices possible.

“In looking to continue to drive down rates in the future, we held a white board budgeting session,” said Quast. “We explored new opportunities to further engage our captive, take on a named peril approach, and potentially access capital markets. She has a unique ability to think outside of the box in trying to achieve our goals.”

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Simons understands the importance of underwriter relationships. “She is well-respected not only within the brokerage community, but also within the underwriting community,” said Quast. “She has significant relationships in the U.S., Bermuda and London markets.”

“Kate is extremely dedicated,” he added. “She has always been a phone call away, 24/7. She was even responding to emails over her three-week honeymoon to Australia.”

Taking the Lead on Cyber

Stephanie Snyder
Senior Vice President
Aon, Chicago

A good insurance broker knows where to look to find the coverage to fit a client’s needs. A great one knows how to create new products when the right coverage doesn’t exist. That’s exactly what Stephanie Snyder, national cyber sales leader at Aon, did when she found existing cyber coverage lacking.

“She and the Aon team took our needs to the market and helped develop business practical solutions flexible enough to adapt to change,” said Elizabeth Queen, VP of risk management at Wolters Kluwer, a global information solutions company. “What we forged together has since formed part of the basis of the new, one-of-a-kind Aon integrated cyber policy that was recently announced.”

“She has continuously provided information on new initiatives and options in the cyber market and also has proactively provided insight to events reported in the news regarding retailers,” said Lisa Walton, director of risk and insurance at JCPenney. “She understands the risks associated with cyber and she understands the market on a level that most other brokers do not. She also knows what is valuable for the market to understand.”

But while Snyder has become widely recognized as a thought leader and innovator, one of her greatest strengths remains her customer service. “Despite the fact that a number of key tech clients have Stephanie on speed dial, through rapid, truly caring, and professional response, she makes us feel as if we are the only customer — in a good way,” said Queen, echoing a sentiment held by more than one of Snyder’s satisfied clients.

Keeping Cool Under Pressure

Susan Young
Senior Vice President
Marsh, Seattle

Susan Young offers her clients knowledge, innovation and unfailing customer service. But sometimes what stands out most is her calm demeanor.

“We have been through a lot of upheaval,” said one of her clients, the director of insurance and risk management for a national retailer. “RFP, renewal, a complete change of management … and a new group VP who had to pick it up in the middle for a renewal. Susan was very good at bringing him up to speed. … She had a calm demeanor despite excitable people, and as a result she has been a great benefit to the team. We have a lot of disparate personalities, and she is able to work with everyone.”

Of course, that’s no substitute for finding innovative new products at the right price. “Our cyber program is an industry standard as a best practice, with many coverages and benefits that are extremely new,” said that same client. “Last year one of our policies was 001 — we were the first recipient of the placement. [Susan has] very good product knowledge, she’s good at pushing the envelope, at new opportunities and new enhancements, and we have been the beneficiary. And in addition she has saved us a lot of money.”

“She stands out,” said Dorina Hertner, director of corporate insurance and risk management at 7-Eleven Inc. “It is amazing how much knowledge she brings with her limited years of experience and she is also [great to] work with — pleasant, enjoyable and intelligent.”

 Finalist:

Steve Fisk
Principal
Barney & Barney, Aliso Viejo, Calif.

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]