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.