By: Kyle Dean
The last 40 years here at Dean & Draper Insurance Agency, LP have consistently been about steadfastness and growth.
Before my father, Bob Dean, set out to change the world of insurance, he was a safety engineer for 10 years at multiple insurance companies. Taking measured risks and trusting his sharp business instincts, he started his agency in 1980 with partner Terry Vaughan. With limited capital, working long hours and wearing many hats, the duo filed the official charter for the company on June 24, 1980.
My Dad used to refer to himself as the “Chief Cook and Bottle Washer.”
Within two weeks of starting the company, my Dad faced incredible pressure. My mom shared that she was pregnant with me. As they say at NASA, failure was not an option.
The company survived the first few years and started picking up momentum.
In 1984, the duo purchased the Drew Insurance Agency, and the agency name was changed to Drew, Dean, and Vaughan. The company name remained until the company acquired Draper & Associates.
In 1997, the company changed the name a final time to Dean & Draper Insurance Agency L.P. and, around that same time, Terry Vaughan retired. Tom Draper, the founder of Draper & Associates, was never an official owner in Dean & Draper; however, the company wanted his name present since he was well known in the insurance industry and in the Houston area. Until Tom passed in 2007, he was active in the business.
A master of insurance, financial management, budgeting, and human resource management, my Dad ran a fair and prosperous business that served the best interests of his employees, clients, and associates.
What many don't know is how my Dad faced many personal challenges along the way. He never wavered in his commitment to our clients, to his employees, or our family.
In 1994, my Dad kept the business running and took care of my sister and me as a single parent after my mom suddenly passed away. Through this stressful time, my Dad was steadfast in managing the business and was extensively involved in our lives and school activities. In 2004, my brother, Robert Franklin "Bobby" Dean, Jr., passed away suddenly and yet again, my Dad was steadfast in managing the business.
In July 2013, my Dad passed away suddenly; I was 33 years old.
During the first six months after his passing, I ran the family business by continually asking myself, “What would my Dad do?”
My Dad was a legend in the insurance industry and among friends. He was well known for successfully building his business from the ground up and providing personal service that was second to none. His kindness and one-liners stood him apart from others and with a kind heart, warm smile, and genuine spirit, my Dad was a hard act to follow.
When my Dad passed, many people thought I would disappear for a significant amount of time or that I would sell the agency. They were mistaken; I was very anxious to get back to the office and hit the ground running. It was a responsibility that my father had given me and I knew exactly what he wanted me to do with the business.
I never wanted his office to look like a shrine – I wanted it to look like the same space we had shared so many hours together before his passing. So I moved into his office soon after.
The biggest challenge of leading my father’s company was not the workload or the pressure that comes with the position. Instead, it was the constant struggle of running the business as my father’s, versus my own. One day a wise mentor and friend told me, “It’s your company now. Do it the way you would do it. That’s what your father would have wanted.” From that day on, I took the reins and began running my company. I did not want to change the company drastically rather I chose to maintain the same values that my family had instilled in this business.
I had grown up in this business and started as a sales executive from 2005 to 2009. From 2009 to 2013, I remained a sales executive and served as Vice President. In 2013, I became President & CEO after my Dad passed becoming a young leader in our industry and holding the same responsibilities of any other “seasoned” President and CEO – with very few being in my age group.
Learning how to cope with the judgment and questions of other industry leaders was pretty tough at the beginning. After a few years of experience in my new role, others began to recognize my leadership capabilities and observe that our agency continued as usual while focusing heavily on increasing new business.
I took every day – day by day. I couldn’t think about tomorrow’s problems today because every day was something different. Through this very tough transition from sales executive to Vice President to CEO, I continued to strengthen and retain our excellent team of agents while continually hiring new talent.
Throughout my Dad's lifelong commitment to building a reliable agency, he had crafted a business that would continue to grow and thrive in his absence.
He and I had worked hand in hand over the years, formulating strategies for the future based on shared values and philosophies. We always agreed that the people who make up our company were the organization’s most valuable asset and the driving force behind the agency’s success. My Dad left a legacy of integrity, innovation, and compassion that lives on in my heart and so many others here.
Everyone here at Dean & Draper shares the same vision. With integrity and trust and by doing things the right way, we have successfully kept our company’s brand recognized and maintained in our relationships in this community, our region, and our industry.
It's been seven years since my Dad passed and we have continued to grow, just as he had dreamed. We're still going strong, demonstrating our company’s rock-solid foundation and ability to withstand change.
The relationships with carriers that my Dad, our team, and I have cultivated over the years remain intact.
We continue to grow organically through sales, service, and savvy acquisitions that enable our company to expand its offerings with services that complement our current portfolio. We continue to address issues legislatively that affect our industry and our clients, working at the local, regional and national level.
My forward-thinking strategy for our agency is three-fold: people, technology, and community.
As I look to a steady future, I will continue to empower our team with the training and tools they need to do their jobs and maintain our culture of the family being the heart of our company.
In 2021, we plan to overhaul our internal systems to improve our clients' service experience even further and deliver additional innovative risk solutions.
Throughout the years we've given back to our community in many ways. We’ve supported many local charities and magnified our family's passion for patriotism. We support Camp Hope, which provides interim housing for military service personnel, veterans, and their families as they struggle with combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We have stayed active with the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation, which benefits children at risk, education, supports our veterans, and offers disaster relief. We're active with the Texas Insurance Education Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that supports undergraduate university degree programs in Insurance and Risk Management.
Now we are facing a new challenge, a global pandemic. As an essential business and a trusted independent insurance agency, we have continued to support our clients with no interruption in service or support. Our nearly 100 employees have adapted quickly to support our customers by working offsite when necessary and remaining connected to our customers.
I look at our company like a race horse with blinders on. The blinders help the horse avoid distraction and not get spooked. Our company will run the race and not allow distractions to get us off track.
While others are selling their agencies, we will be the one that sticks around for years to come.
As a family business with the same proven philosophy, I'm excited about the growth we will experience over the next 40 years. Bring on the Change - We're Ready!