Working toward joining the Minor Leagues as an umpire to becoming the CEO of an insurance agency may seem like a big career change, but for Ed Mackoul, CEO and president of Mackoul & Associates Inc. in Island Park, N.Y., it was the right decision.
“I absolutely love what I do,” he told Insurance Journal.
Mackoul & Associates was nominated by its staff, and won this year’s Best Agency to Work For Gold Award in Insurance Journal’s East region. To nominate the agency, its staff members filled out anonymous survey questions. While Ed Mackoul is currently responsible for running all facets of the business, his initial path to entering the insurance industry had an unlikely start.
“I came out of college and didn’t know what I wanted to do,” he said. “I decided to go to Umpire School in Florida to see if I could become a professional umpire, and though I did well and would have been placed in the Minor Leagues, my father convinced me to join him in the agency. That was in 1995.”
Since then, Mackoul says he hasn’t looked back.
“I’ve never regretted it,” he said.
With a staff of 38, Mackoul & Associates is celebrating its 30th year in business. It has seen growth in the past four years as revenue has continued to increase, with revenue projections for 2017 expected to increase as well.
“Being able to go back in time and see where the agency first started with only three employees…shows where hard work and dedication can and will take you,” wrote one employee in the survey.
Mackoul said the people in the company have played an important role in its growth.
After all, one underlying theme at Mackoul & Associates influences everything the agency does, according to the company website: “Insurance is a business about people.”
The firm invests in employees by holding team-building events each year and rewards staff for hitting corporate goals with company trips, Mackoul said. Management does year-end planning and sets goals for each department, wrote one employee. Employees receive bonuses for each growth level reached along with a trip if year-end goals are met. In the survey, employees pointed to this year’s scavenger hunt at the Museum of Natural History and a cruise to the Bahamas as some highlights.
However, one employee shared a memory from years earlier to illustrate the importance of the people-first atmosphere at Mackoul & Associates. The employee wrote that the office in Island Park was flooded with more than five feet of water by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Despite many staff members being affected by the events of Sandy through losing homes, cars or assisting relatives, the employee described how everyone pulled together to get operations back to normal at the recovery center within a day of the flooding and attend to the more than 400 claims the office received.
“Most of our clients never even knew we had suffered the same losses as they had,” the employee said. “We helped each other get through a difficult time and grew closer as a family. I have never felt like work was anything less than being with my family…there is a reason after 27 years that I am still here and still growing.”
Surveyed employees explained how these memories and others helped build the tight-knit culture the agency enjoys today. For Ed Mackoul, what is one of the biggest highlights for the agency this year?
“This would probably be it,” he said. “Out of all of the things we have accomplished and awards we have won, to have the staff nominate us to be the best place to work makes me feel great.”