5 Questions with a Renaissance Alliance Member: David Margolis, Greenberg, Rhein & Margolis

David Margolis

Your agency hosts an extensive collection of insurance-related memorabilia and historical pieces. Can you tell us about that?

Years ago, my parents enjoyed antiquing on the weekends. I believe it was the Summer of ’69 when my mom came across an old, beautifully carved large USF&G sign and bought it as a gift for my dad, thinking it would be great to display it in his office (at that time, USF&G was one of the agency’s largest carriers). The following year they added a Shawmut Insurance Co. sign, which they found in Boston. From there, the collection slowly grew to include blotters, old policies, calendars, rulers and lots of other vintage insurance company advertising memorabilia. After joining the agency in 1979 I discovered I also enjoyed the history of insurance company advertising and began to seriously grow the collection. I stopped counting after acquiring the 500th sign and the countless number of other items, most of which are proudly displayed throughout our office.

The composition of Greenberg, Rhein & Margolis’ book is about 55% commercial lines and 45% personal lines. Is that nearly equal split maintained by design, and do you see that split changing in the next few years?

The percentages have changed over the years. For the longest time the split was even greater – closer to 75/25 – but after we acquired several personal lines agencies, the split evened out at 50/50. As we landed some larger commercial accounts the needle shifted back, but then we experienced some healthy growth in personal lines following a very successful social media marketing campaign. In the past few years we added some additional larger commercial accounts. I do hope to grow both, but we see greater potential in personal lines – especially if we continue with the high retention rate we currently enjoy.

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What attracted you to Renaissance Alliance, and what membership benefits do you take advantage of to assist your agency?

We joined Renaissance just over 10 years ago (I’m waiting for my 10-year plaque!) and the reasons for joining then would be somewhat different if I was joining as a new member today. Back then I was mostly interested in becoming part of a larger organization in order to connect with other agency owners in a non-competitive environment to share ideas and seek advice, as I’ve been the sole principal since my dad retired in 1991. Other reasons: a greater number of insurance companies in my portfolio, the hope to greatly reduce the fear of losing markets due to lack of growth or profitability, IT expertise and back-office support, and enhanced profit sharing and compensation contracts.

Today I’d still join for those same reasons but with an emphasis on agency compensation, IT engagement, marketing and anything and everything else Renaissance can do to support us in our 5-year-plus plan for significant organic growth.

How do you achieve balance between your professional life and your creative pursuits, and what are your hobbies?

Early on in my career I had little balance since I worked all day, had appointments (of the kitchen-table variety) or community volunteer meetings most nights, and I spent the weekends with family and handling household chores and office paperwork. During the last half-dozen years, I’ve gotten better at striking that balance and I carve out time either in my studio sculpting, painting, and repairing various bric-a-brac for family and friends, or working on any number of stories that I’m in the never-ending process of writing. I’d say my favorite hobby continues to be taking and printing photographs, but not like in my college days – now it’s strictly digital. I’m considering getting back into “wet” photography, though. After all, even vinyl has made a comeback!

What motivates you the most at this point in your career?

Pretty much the same things that always motivated me: to do my best for our clients at all times, to create and maintain a stable and respectful work environment for our most valuable asset – our amazing employees, my team members, and lastly but not the least important, to continue the legacy begun by my dad.

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