Co-founder, Edgewood Partners Insurance Center
Tell me a little about your business.
My partner and best friend, Dan Francis, and I started EPIC in July 2007. We have about 280 employees and $60 million in revenue. Almost three quarters of our business is property-casualty; a quarter is employee benefits.
Where were you before July 2007?
I was the CEO of Bisys Commercial Insurance Services/Tri-City Brokerage.
Why this business?
Dan and I felt that if we could raise enough capital to build a relevant company, we could create a platform that had world-class resources and intellectual capital to make a difference to clients every day. So we went out and raised $100 million from Stone Point Capital in Connecticut, and we’ve been deploying it to acquire companies and high-quality talent ever since.
What were your goals?
To build a culture where it would be team oriented, emphasize work-life balance, and where we would offer real equity opportunities to our associates. We think we created a unique model where employees could purchase equity under the same terms as Dan and me, or they could earn equity by generating revenue.
What do you think makes your company unique?
We start with the simple phrase “People First, Mission Always” with our core guiding principles being teamwork, candor, respect and integrity. Many firms focus predominantly on creating shareholder value as their key operating objective. We believe, if we make this a great company and a great culture for our employees, they will do a great job serving and delivering value to our clients. And if all that happens, we think shareholders will be appropriately rewarded. It is a pretty simple formula.
Where did you grow up?
I’m a New Yorker, as my accent never seems to go away. I was born in Brooklyn, and we moved to Long Island when I was seven. But I’ve been on the West Coast more than half my life now, so I guess I’m sort of a Californian also.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I have a fabulous wife who also happens to be one of our founders. We love to travel, particularly to Italy and the Mediterranean. I enjoy wine, golf and horsing around with my three sons. I’m a serial entrepreneur as well, and as a hobby I invest in private companies that interest me.
Can you tip us off to one of your favorite wines?
I think for me it’s a Pinot Noir called Kosta Browne. It has gotten hard to find through normal wine-buying channels and, thus, has become expensive over the last few years. It is yummy, though. I also love Italian wines, mainly Brunellos. That is another reason we love Italy so much.
Where do you go in Italy?
I love the Amalfi Coast. I love it up north in Tuscany as well.
What’s it like where you live?
Atherton is five minutes from Stanford, so it’s right in the heart of Silicon Valley. It’s always very vibrant, from a mental point of view. Being an entrepreneur at heart, I really enjoy the mental stimulation of all of that.
Do you have a favorite author?
Nelson Demille. I like almost every book he writes. I just finished The Lion a couple of weeks ago.
Best advice you ever got?
From my father. When we went to start Tri-City in 1985, I was young—I was 29. I didn’t have any money, really, and we were raising money. I was nervous about doing this. Even though my personality is usually as a risk taker, I was getting chicken. I called him up, and he said, “You need to take this risk because even if you fail it’ll be a major achievement in your career. People will look at you as someone who had the guts to do it.” And he was right.
What gives you your leader’s edge in this industry?
I strive everyday for every interaction with employees, clients, stakeholders, friends and family to be a win-win outcome. I think I listen and put myself in other people’s shoes as well as anybody does.
The Hahn File
Hometown: Atherton, Calif.
Wife: Nancy (a founding employee and principal in the firm)
Sons: Jonathan, 21; Alex, 17; and Will, 15
Pets: A black lab, Georgia, and two cats, Tabby and Simon
Wheels: Audi A8L