King Associates and DBL Center: Merging Entertainment and Business

For more than 35 years, storytelling and enthusiasm help sell insurance

Incorporated as The DBL Center Ltd. since 1983, The DBL Center has many long-time, second generation clients. But few brokers have stories steeped in such rich New York history as Richard King, owner of King Associates.

Richard King was mentored by the late David Cohen, landing prestigious accounts that included The Garden City Hotel and Fairhaven Apartments when DBL Center was a brand-new wholesale insurance agency.

Later, King sponsored DBL Center President Michael Cohen’s admission into The Friars Club, the preeminent members-only club for entertainment professionals located in a five-story English Renaissance Tudor in Midtown Manhattan.

King says the key factor that has prevailed across two generations of DBL Center management is the enthusiasm of the team, which King shares as he reminisces about his mentors, offers tips for brokers, and talks about his involvement with the Friars and how it can help an insurance broker.

How did you first meet David Cohen and start doing business with The DBL Center?

I think David may have cold-called me, because he was very aggressive – just like my dad. I have to give you a bit of the history. It was because of my dad, Murray King, that Dave and I did business together.

My dad was raised in the Bronx with four brothers. When he grew up and got married, he became a math professor at City College. Then he started selling insurance with Hancock, in the 1940s, because he didn’t have a job one summer.

Selling door-to-door in Harlem, he made it big, with a lot of persistence through the years, as a one-man show.

I introduced Dave to my Dad, who was a powerhouse life insurance broker at the time. Dave loved Murray because they were both characters.

Murray was handling life insurance at the time for top real estate developers on Long Island, like Myron Nelkin, who built Fairhaven Apartments and the Garden City Hotel.

So we wrote life insurance and DBL for Fairhaven Apartments – 2,500 units – and the Garden City Hotel through DBL Center. I also handled a printing firm of about 400 other companies, and other Long Island businesses.

Dave was my guy.

What was it like doing business with DBL Center back then, 35 years ago?

I was writing life insurance and DBL. I would use DBL as the foot in the door, because nobody knew about it. Nobody knew it was an employer-funded, state-mandated benefit.

Back then, as far as back office support, it was all Eugene [Puleo]. Eugene was invaluable. Even after all these years, Eugene offers superb back office support, giving me prodigious confidence, accuracy, and the ability to make sales.

How was it different selling DBL back then from now?

It was all about in-person contact. There was no email. There were no excuses or delays because of the electronic convenience aspect. You did not have to wait for someone to reply. You did everything in person.

You made an appointment, you went in, and whether you were successful or not was up to you.

Dave abided by one-on-one communications. He had superior communication skills, just like my Dad. I was fortunate to have them both as mentors.

What set David and DBL Center apart from others in the industry back then?

The key word there is enthusiasm.

David Cohen had it. Murray had it. I had it. Certainly, Michael [Cohen, DBL Center President] has it. Beyond the education and everything else we need to sell insurance, enthusiasm is the key difference.

When someone sees our enthusiasm, we make the sale. Today, if I go in with Michael, we’re getting the client.

Tell us where the Friars Club connection comes in.

I met Michael when he was right out of college, and I remember thinking he had a great voice. Like his dad, communication was his strength.

I started talking to Michael about the Friars Club, and he said he wanted to join. I had been on the admissions committee for many years, and I’d been a member for 25 years, very involved with the club. So, I said, “Let’s go.”

He was the perfect candidate, so I sponsored his induction.

Michael has done a great job promoting DBL in conjunction with the Friars Club, booking comedians through the club, bringing clients there, and using it for networking.

For those who may not be familiar, what are the benefits of networking within the Friars Club?

The Friars Club is the largest entertainment club in the country, and it’s great networking. Two-thirds of the members are professional entertainers and the other one-third are non-professionals. But the celebrities and the non-celebrities are all on the same level.

When you bring clients there, you are including them in something special here in New York. You’re entertaining them like no other agent can.
Merging business with entertainment – that’s something Murray and David were brilliant at, and now Michael is doing it.

If you bring a prospect to the Friars Club, they are not leaving without becoming a client.

To learn more about booking comedians through the Friars Club for a holiday party or special event, call The DBL Center now.


DBL Center Celebrates New Digs in Melville, NY


The DBL Center held a summer celebration at Prime in Huntington on the Long Island Sound.

The team, led by Michael Cohen, has plenty to celebrate in 2018. We have a new office in Melville and we’re getting set for the launch of our Broker Dashboard this fall, followed by the introduction of our Net Revenue Tracker (NRT) software.

We’d like to take this chance to give you a peek into life at DBL Center.

You’ll get to know us a little bit better. And maybe understand exactly how – and why – white-glove service is a core part of our company mission and how important our brokers are to us.

Family-owned, Family-run… Family, Celebrated

The DBL Center has always been a family-owned company. And our employees are a lot like family, too.

With this in mind, picture your most boisterous family meal, and you could imagine our lunch at Prime.

There was lots of great food, many laughs, and great stories from great storytellers. (We have many in the DBL extended family). As the conversation meandered to family traditions, there were strong reminders of where we came from and some talk of where we are going.

Open Floor Plan Office Brings the DBL Center Family Even Closer, Provides All the Amenities

Our new office at 155 Pinelawn Road in Melville, a few miles south of our prior location and near prestigious Long Island companies like Newsday and Estee Lauder, gives The DBL Center more space and more amenities. With room to grow within our suite, the office boasts an open floor plan that allows our team to work more closely in alignment. We are all here to help each other.

On a summer Friday afternoon, the office spaces are filled with laughter. The atmosphere makes us more eager to work and happy to provide our brokers with the service they expect. Productivity, creativity, and idea-sharing are all enhanced as DBL Center prepares to enter its next stage of growth.

In the doorway of the office suite to greet visitors and employees is an original drawn portrait of founder David Cohen by local artist and family friend John D. Herz, who David often called, “the Michelangelo of the #2 pencil.” The image reminds us, daily, of why it’s so important to continue living up to our founder’s vision of white-glove service.

Of course, the new office space boasts all the expected amenities. New, ergonomic office chairs were specially chosen for our employees’ comfort and enhanced productivity. In addition to the large conference table in the common area, there is a conference space in president Michael Cohen’s office, where he records our popular webinar series that covers topics like Paid Family Leave, and a screen to show WebEx demos of our new NRT software to brokers.

What This Means for Our Brokers

As DBL Center continues to expand in every way, we have more resources to serve our brokers better, faster, and with the level of attention you expect and deserve. Our webinars and website are just a few examples of how we’ve evolved for the better in the past few years, and our new office is the next step in that evolution.

As our sales volume increases, it puts us in an even better position to negotiate with carriers to secure the best deals for our brokers.

Yet, DBL Center will never forget our roots and will never neglect the personalized service we have offered for more than 40 years. We may grow larger, with nicer offices and more personnel, but we won’t ever become a “big box” insurance wholesaler.

We maintain true to David Cohen’s vision of a “boutique” insurance agency dedicated to serving our brokers, even as we leverage today’s technology to do so in new and more effective ways.

Drop us a line and let us know how we can serve you today.

 

 


Booking Entertainment for your Holiday Parties

Are you planning a holiday party for your hard-working employees? Whether you’re the head of HR or the owner of the business, there’s a lot of pressure this time of year to create a holiday celebration your employees will love. A holiday party is a great way, after all, to thank your employees for all their work throughout the year, as well as to showcase the strength of your organization. After all, if you can afford a high-end venue and top-level entertainment, the implication is the company is doing well and your top talent can feel secure in their positions.The right venue and right entertainment make your holiday party one to remember.

Even if you aren’t in a position to break the bank with your holiday festivities, you can still make it look as if you invested in the best. Trust us – here at The DBL Center, our employees and their spouses talk about our parties for months after the event. We aren’t extravagant and we certainly don’t waste money. But we maintain the same white-glove ambiance we’re known for providing our customers, and we throw a party to remember.

But wait – we know what you’re saying. It’s only October! To give your team the opportunity to book the best—from the venue to the entertainment—it’s not too early to start the party planning process now.

Choose the Right Venue

Select a venue that reflects your company culture, whether that’s a microbrewery or an elegant banquet hall. Where will your employees be most comfortable? Make sure to book a room that’s large enough to hold your whole party… Consider last year’s attendance to see what percentage of employees will show up.

Select an Appealing Menu

Just like the venue, the food should reflect your employees’ tastes. Is a Vegan, raw-food craze going around your office? Does lunch lean toward ethnic cuisine? Unless you run a small office where you may be able to find a consensus for some unusual choices, it might be best to pick a varied menu with something for everyone, from vegetarian options to prime rib.

Book Entertainment That Will Wow the Crowd

All that’s left is the entertainment. A DJ or band is always the old stand-by when it comes to holiday office parties. But a successful night then rests on having a group of people who want to dance.

Why not consider a comedy act, instead? Your guests will be riveted—and will brag to their friends about how their office party had the best comedy show. Laughter can even help individuals bond, so you may find your employees growing closer through the night. Those bonds of friendship will last into Monday morning and into next year.

A Way to Thank Loyal Customers with a Memorable Gift

Through our partnership with Steiner Sports, The DBL Center now offers celebrities bookings—including sports stars and top comedians. We can set it up for you with just a phone call. It’s one way to make sure your holiday party stands out.

If you are an insurance broker with a client you want to thank in a big way, you can offer to book a comedy guest for their office party. It’s a gift that will build loyalty and friendship. Your customer—and their employees—will remember it all year long.

Here at The DBL Center, disability insurance is just the beginning. Our goal is providing white-glove service to our brokers and their customers in every way we can.


NFL Star Punter Steve Weatherford Addresses Insurance Brokers

The DBL Center’s partnership with Steiner Sports opens new possibilities for insurance brokers.

In the months since our new website launch, we’ve used these blog pages largely to share tips and trends with insurance brokers, HR directors, and company owners. But we have some developments going on here at The DBL Center Ltd. that are just too exciting not to share.

Newly retired New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford took time out of his busy schedule to share with you the many benefits of doing business with The DBL Center for your mandatory disability coverage and other employee benefits packages.

We’re understandably excited about this video. Here in the New York Tri-state area, Weatherford is a well-known sports hero, having punted for both the Jets and the Giants. A self-proclaimed husband, father, brother, philanthropist, and NFL punter (in that order), Weatherford is known for his kind heart, as well as his devotion to both weight lifting and his family (not necessarily in that order).

A New York hero willing to assist local businesses and help friends, we’re honored that he chose to lend his name and face to this DBL Center video and share with you the many benefits of doing business with us.

DBL Center and Steiner Partnership Puts Sports and Comedy in the Spotlight

In this video, Weatherford also helps us put an exclamation point on a very important announcement. The DBL Center has partnered with the number one sports memorabilia and collectible company in America, Steiner Sports, to bring DBL Center customers exclusive sports and comedy star appearances, signings, and more. Steiner Sports specializes in helping companies use the power of sports to grow their business —and The DBL Center now brings that power to our insurance brokers and their customers.

Insurance brokers in the New York Tri-State area and beyond can attract new business through entertainment-centric networking events, thank large or loyal accounts, and plan company parties or fundraisers to remember, all through this value-added service offered by The DBL Center. Just contact Michael Cohen to coordinate a celebrity appearance through Steiner Sports.

Plan for the Future with DBL Center

Professional athletes have a unique responsibility to ensure they are planning, financially, for the future after their career or in the event of an injury. In Weatherford’s case, this includes not only maintaining a certain quality of life for himself and his family, but continuing with his philanthropic endeavors after retirement.

But whether you are making seven figures in one season or a more modest salary, enhanced DBL coverage and other ancillary benefits—including Group Life / AD&D, continuing care insurance and a 401K retirement program—can help give you (and your customers or employees) peace of mind for the future.

From your next corporate event to your retirement, (and anything in between) find out how you can plan for a more successful future with The DBL Center today. Disability insurance is just the beginning….


Helping Employers Choose the Best Employee Benefits

Employee benefits are complicated. But you, the broker, can help.

Nearly half of all employees spend a mere 30 minutes choosing their benefits plan, according to this report from Namely, an all-in-one HR platform. What’s even more startling is that most employees (73 percent) simply roll over the same benefits from year to year. Questions about employee benefits? Brokers have answers.

Why is that?

Is it because employees don’t care about the benefits they’re receiving? Are they too overworked to spend any time researching their options? Perhaps they just believe all benefits plans are the same, and they’re not going to do any better than what they’ve had all along.

We suspect it’s a combination of these factors. Ninety percent of employees admit they don’t understand the changes to their policies each year. Choosing employee benefits is confusing and overwhelming and, oftentimes, employers and HR departments don’t have any advice to offer, either.

Employers Look Toward Insurance Brokers for Guidance

As a smart insurance broker, this ubiquitous lack of knowledge is your opportunity to guide your clients toward the best benefits packages, whether that involves enhanced disability coverage, ancillary benefits, a 401K plan —or even a combination of all of these.

What Employees Want Out of Benefits Packages

In order to better serve our clients and their employees, let’s look at what the Namely survey tells us about employees and benefits.

– Most employees (80 percent) place a premium on benefits, saying a good package keeps them more engaged in the workplace.

– More than half (57 percent) say they’d trade greater compensation for a better benefits package.

– Employees want the basics: Health, Dental, and Vision coverage rank top on the list of benefits employees want

– Seventy-two percent of employees also want a matching 401K

Clearly, employees want—and expect—a lot from benefits packages. With this in mind, why do they spend so little time choosing the package that can meet their needs? It’s easy to see that the insurance broker who steps in, able to meet their client’s needs and, subsequently, make an organization’s employees happy, more engaged, and likely to stick around, has gained a customer for life.

More than Just Benefits

Understanding your customers, though, is more than just knowing the kind of benefits they want. Let’s explore the intangibles of what employers look for in an insurance provider.

Personalized Service and Consultative Selling

We’ve established that choosing a benefits package —and managing insurance, in general—is complicated. An insurance broker who provides top-notch customer service and consultative selling to ensure the client is selecting the best benefits for their employees will win out.

Technology-driven Service

Today’s employees, HR directors, and business owners are accustomed to doing nearly everything online. We can host video conferences with clients and partners across the world with one click, buy car insurance online, and order lunch through our smartphone.

Today’s top insurance brokers should offer online rate quotes, along with the ability to pay bills, track claims, and have questions answered all from a computer with Internet access— or even a mobile device. A good insurance wholesaler makes these tools available to its brokers and select best-in-class carriers known for their technology and their overall service.

Discounted Prices

Choosing employee benefits means putting all the pieces together to reduce costs and increase employee satisfaction.
Of course, employers are also looking for the best employee benefits and the lowest premiums available. Brokers with The DBL Center, Ltd. have access to a wide range of top-rated carriers who can offer bundled policies to provide clients with the lowest rates possible.

We shop your policies around, saving you time, but you’ll be the one your clients thank when you write them a better policy at a lower rate than they had before.

Don’t Let Your Clients Settle

Even though most employees are willing to settle for the same benefits package year after year, smart business owners and HR directors will look for ways to increase benefits without increasing costs, as a way to improve employee satisfaction and retention rates.

As an insurance broker, you’re in the position to help by showing them what’s available. It’s time to let your clients know they don’t have to settle for less. They can enjoy the best service, lower premiums and more robust benefits when they let you show them their options.

Let The DBL Center help provide your customers with more in the way of employee benefits.