FAIRFIELD, NJ — Denny Klein is loved: just ask the staff, family, friends and professional contacts who helped him celebrate the 10th anniversary of his Fairfield-based insurance agency Rand, Feuer and Klein, LLC on May 12.
"I'm a little nostalgic today because so many people who helped support me to get this organization off the ground are here today, and some friends I've known for over 30 years," said Klein, joined by his wife Cathy, looking over a room full of guests celebrating the agency's milestone. "It's been a long struggle, but we're here."
Klein is a third-generation insurance broker, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Joseph, who started in the business in 1922, and his father, Albert (Albie"), who entered the business in 1939.
"I came into their business in Livingston in 1981," he said, "and I was there for 25 years before coming here and starting my own agency."
And it doesn't stop there. His son, Joey, will be coming on at the firm shortly, making it four generations in the business.
John Bannett of Partners Specialty Group made comments about Klein and his business that were echoed several times throughout the night.
"Denny and I have done business for over 25 years, maybe 30, and I can't think of a person I have more respect for as an insurance person and as a friend," said Bannett. "He's smart, he's intelligent, he's into every part of the business. He cares about his clients and he cares about his company."
That admiration was also evident among his employees, who said they were proud of both Klein and the agency he's built. Eileen Leff has been working with Klein for more than eight years and said this is "not your run-of-the-mill insurance group."
"This agency has a very personal touch to it," she said. "I've been in environments before where everything is just completely automated, robotic...even the people deal with you in a very impersonal way."
She added that this office could be considered the exact opposite.
"This is a very professional office: we're real people that deal with real people and make everyone feel valued," she said.
David Lamarra has been with the organization more than nine years and agreed about the approach.
"We're a boutique agency that offers a sophisticated but hometown service," he said. "David is a man who really cares about his staff and their well-being."
So after decades in insurance, what are Klein's words of wisdom for those starting off in the business?
"What, are you crazy?" he said, laughing.
Then he added more seriously, "Our business is about people, it's about taking care of people...you have to love people, because at the end of the day, I don't insure things, I insure people and the things that can happen to them."