The legacy of insurance: A conversation with Daniel J. Kaufman | Insurance Business America
The legacy of insurance: A conversation with Daniel J. Kaufman
“We build our company on top people”
In the world of insurance, few names resonate as deeply as H.W. Kaufman Group. At the heart of this legacy is Daniel J. Kaufman (pictured), executive vice president, who recently sat down with Insurance Business to discuss his journey, the challenges of the pandemic, and his commitment to community service.
“I grew up around the insurance industry,” he said. “My grandfather founded this company in 1969. I grew up coming to the office, having lunch with him. Back then, we were very formal. I’d put on a suit and tie to visit. I fell in love with the industry. It was a people-first industry built on relationships, handshakes, and friendships.”
Following in his father’s footsteps, Daniel J. Kaufman went to law school, despite knowing his heart was set on insurance. “After law school, I joined the industry right away,” he said. “Having a law background is very helpful. It helps me see things in a certain way.”
His journey in the industry has since been diverse. From internships at 16, roles in data entry, to becoming a property broker in Chicago, he has seen it all. “In 2017, when I moved back to Detroit, I took on the responsibility as chief operating officer for Burns Wilcox in the US. In 2021, I became president of Burns and Wilcox with an emphasis on the US.”
Pandemic creates opportunities
The pandemic brought unprecedented challenges. But for Daniel J. Kaufman and his team, it was also a time of innovation and growth.
“We began our digitalization roadmap prior to COVID,” he explained. “One of the first things our new CEO did was look at our infrastructure. By happenstance, this got us ready for a completely virtual environment. So, when March 13, 2020, came around, we were ready to go fully remote. We were ahead of the game.”
The company’s proactive approach to technology paid off. While others were making cuts, Burns and Wilcox signed a contract with Salesforce, investing over $100 million to overhaul its systems. “We’re three years into that project now,” he said. “We’re starting to roll out that system, building the future of the company on this new digital platform.”
A bright future
Looking ahead, Daniel J. Kaufman is optimistic. “We’re always looking to bring in top talent,” he said. “We build our company on top people. We’re also looking at acquisitions. There’s a lot of consolidation in the space. We have a five-year plan to double in size by 2028, organically and through acquiring.”
But beyond business, his heart lies in community service. A proud fifth generation Detroiter, he’s deeply invested in the city’s revitalization.
“Wherever I go in the world, I heavily promote Detroit,” he said. “When I came back in 2017, I invested both my time and dollars into the city.” He’s particularly passionate about the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, where he’s co-chairing a $75 million endowment campaign. “Organizations in Detroit are vital to the city. They promote businesses, tourism, and education.”
For Daniel J. Kaufman, giving back isn’t just a personal mission; it’s a company-wide ethos.
“It’s important that all of our people give back to the communities in which we do business,” he said. “If I’m not doing it, then we can’t expect our people to do it. We ask our people to give back in all ways, everywhere we do business.”
In a world that’s constantly changing, he stands as a testament to the power of legacy, innovation, and community service. His journey, from a young boy visiting his grandfather’s office to leading one of the industry’s giants, is truly inspiring. And as he looks to the future, one thing is clear: the best is yet to come.
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