About Don Owens
Alinsco Insurance / CEO
Port Royal Society / President
The multiple disciplines and layers of the insurance industry make for exciting work.
The need to manage investments, develop product, control loss dollars, understand the legal environment, evolve acquisition channels, conform to regulation, infuse new technology, interpret data, educate and govern staff, build and update software, secure and serve reinsurance, enhance underwriting tools, develop relationships, market, respond to endless audits, and organize a global workforce all amidst the tyranny of the urgent are all daily demands in our field. This diversity is what I enjoy most. Winston Churchill offers a quote useful in describing what is needed for insurance leadership, “True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information."
God has been gracious to allow me to participate in dynamic businesses, to serve with incredibly intelligent and talented individuals, and the opportunity to pursue various areas I am passionate about.
Currently, I enjoy the privilege of directing the diverse disciplines of the Boenker Group of Companies. These include our agencies, Al Boenker Insurance and Dillo.com, Alinsco MGA, our insurance carrier Alinsco, and Serve5ive in Honduras, Nicaragua, and Mexico with over 400 unique and talented individuals.
We built Empower as a leader in the Texas auto insurance arena.
With a small team, we have managed to stay ahead of our MGA competitors in software and product sophistication. Our tools have helped independent agents grow in a highly competitive environment and we are one of the few companies in the U.S. that provide the materials and guidance to help independents succeed. We have retained our original reinsurance partners due to a dedication to results.
Now our new business production is driven through our own carrier, Alinsco, after a long and healthy relationship with Old American County Mutual.
Not only have we spent much time on tech and product, but we have sought new ways to compete against big directs in a global marketplace. In 2012 we developed Serve5ive LLC in San Pedro Sula, Honduras to manage all of our processing, customer service, and underwriting functionality. Our team now stretches from Minnesota to Managua.
In 2012 we gained even more ground as I set to the task of managing the start of our own reinsurance brokerage, AlinscoRe. The market was skeptical of our ability to execute this side of the business, but we were successful and it is now a growing part of our organization.
I have spent my career meeting bottom line demands through a focus on people first and proficiency second. Only with great people to you get great at proficiency.
The daily responsibilities of managing sales, marketing, claims, underwriting, product, distribution, reinsurance, and beyond have offered me a wealth or challenges and responsibilities. I have spent the last ten years in the incredible schoolhouse of real world insurance challenges. We are a company with the clear purpose of providing affordable products for the protection of Texas consumers and ensuring the growth and sustainability of the independent agent distribution system.
Over 2,000 Texas independent agencies are producers for Empower and we covet these relationships.
While in the twenty-first century the focus on data is nothing new or earth-shattering, Empower has focused the last four years on critical sophistication. The study and use of data have become our culture. We created, and continually develop our study of Insurance Kinetics®. This focus on billions of dollars’ worth of data is a daily process of digestion and interpretation as we integrate and react in real time. Our company has left our fellow MGA competitors in a dangerous position. As they continue to make gut and less than broad data decisions, there is a coming wave of catch-up speeding their way. Thanks to folks like Mark Hall and Darrin Kirby we are constantly pushing forward.
Texas auto insurance is a dynamic and challenging environment that gets me excited every morning. I have the pleasure of working directly with our agents, broker, reinsurers and our county mutual partner.
Prior to serving with the Empower Team, I was Chief Marketing Officer for the Al Boenker Insurance Agency.
Al Boenker is a radically different individual. I consider my gait incredibly fast, in comparison that would make his supersonic. Al taught me a wealth about a realistic approach to marketing. He saved me from the ad agency hype and disconnect from results. Under his tutelage, I was able to hone my marketing skills to that which works as opposed to that which impresses the media experts. At ABI I was given the opportunity to develop campaigns from scratch; write copy, film, record, edit, and executed all of our campaigns. This was an experience you could never buy. Mr. Boenker provided access to the best tools in the 90’s and early 2000’s SoundPro, Final Cut, XL1 cameras, Adobe Suite, etc. Here I was working for an insurance agent, but with Hollywood toys in my hands. It offered a wealth of opportunity to learn vast amounts of software and exercise the creative muscles.
Al Boenker is nothing less than a marketing genius and his “Thanks Al” campaign that I said would never work was massively successful long before I arrived. While with the agency we executed great campaigns like, “I am the Middle Man”, “Insurance Companies are Stupid”, and “Had You at Howdy.”
In addition, we had a kick-butt grassroots marketing campaign. Al and Quad Boenker both raced for the National Pro Formula Mazda Series. We used the racing theme in our marketing of insurance. Imagine the impact we had at large local events with a graphic covered big rig, large video screens, show cars on display and a staff of marketing interns dressed in Al Boenker race gear. It was incredible!
While working under the ABI banner I grew into managing not only our marketing and messages but as I started to connect the dots from message to experience, I was given the opportunity to lead the sales team. This was my step into the insurance world I dwell in today. If you had told me in college I would be a licensed insurance guy I would have thought you had just jumped off the crazy bus.
In my years with ABI we grew our sales exponentially. It was an exciting time of growth and the agency still thrives today and is unlike any independent agency in the United States. In the early 2000’s Al Boenker Insurance was the largest insurance advertiser in the DFW market. Today with companies like GEICO spending $900 million in advertising that is impossible to match, yet ABI continues to grow their sales and influence.
I met Al in 1995 when I was working as the promotions director for KLTY Radio www.klty.com. I directed an event called “Celebrate Freedom” which is known as the largest outdoor concert in the US. I was running through the client pavilion and noticed something messed up. The line for autographs of insurance agent Al Boenker was longer than the one for recording artist Amy Grant. They were both on opposite sides of the pavilion. It was at that moment I decided I was going to find a way to work for that man.
KLTY was an incredible experience as well. I served under station owner Marcos Rodriguez of Rodriguez Communications. Marcos provided regular access and input which I had not been familiar with in my previous radio position.
When I joined KLTY we were 20th in the market. The goal was to grow the station to the level of other mainstream stations. This was no easy task as KLTY is a Christian music station.
We changed things up a bit. We treated the station as an adult contemporary station that then birthed from a T-shirt I had made, “The Station for the Whole Family” which has now morphed into “The Station that is Safe and Fun for the Whole Family”.
We let the music tell the faith story and the jocks talked about, well, what normal people talk about. During my time at KLTY we shot into the top 10. Today in some demos KLTY is even 1st!
Mr. Rodriguez gave me an incredible amount of latitude as a promotions director, not a highly respected role by most radio executives. It was a great opportunity to have an impetus on programming as well as sales. In my time I had developed such close relationships with some of our clients that they let me manage the accounts. This was my discovery of the world of sales and commissions. Loved it and have been hooked since.
Producing “Celebrate Freedom” and being a part of the growth of KLTY was an incredible experience and built many of the grassroots approaches I have since used in other facets.
During my tenure with KLTY I learned the importance of passing the torch. We built a continuous stream of interns to which I committed my services in their career for life, not just while they were with KLTY. This is where I learned that servanthood was the most enjoyable path to success and the great importance of ensuring you are sharing what you’ve learned and always preparing someone to take your place. I’m proud that a former intern Keith Nelson is still managing the KLTY promotions ship 13 years after I left, and that he’s taken it to the next level.
Before KLTY I spent a short period of time with COPRA Media. I came into COPRA, which provided syndicated programming about the time that ABC Radio Networks and others were about to dominate the sphere of big-time programming in small time markets. I quickly sought a new adventure and that’s when thanks to Marcos Rodriguez, I moved the KLTY.
My radio career started while I was still in college. I took an internship with 98.7 KLUV
Programming Vice President Chuck Brinkman offered me the opportunity to pull traffic, arrange his CD’s and run every afternoon to get him a Snapple and Snickers Bar. I jumped at the chance to just be in the building. I worked for free throughout college, but it was a fantastic opportunity. It wasn’t long before I was in the production studio, filling in for overnights, running the programming software, and providing the traffic in the afternoons. Since I was a radio junky at the time I was in hog heaven.
After graduation, the internship turned into a job, at $4.25 an hour. My friends thought I was crazy staying there, but the opportunities continued to grow. As a greenhorn, I was still introduced to more high-level events. They had me attending meetings with consultants, and before long I was the contact person for them and the executor of their wills. I worked with folks like Bill Drake, Bob Hamilton, and Kent Burkhart. I was learning the science and I was elated.
While with KLUV and CBS Radio I was given the opportunity to consult other stations and syndicators. When your 23 a people want to hear what you have to say, it’s kind of like being jacked up on Mountain Dew.
CBS Radio and TK Communications before them laid the groundwork for my career. I owe Chuck Brinkman(CLB3) my career for all he introduced me too and allowed me to do. Baptism by fire – thanks CLB3!
I graduated with a major in Communications and a minor in Business from the University of Texas at Arlington. I was working when I wasn’t in class or studying but I did spend a year as the Vice President for the Baptist Student Union. BSU Director Dr. David Stricklin was very patient with a young, opinionated rebellious me.
While in high school and college I worked in a factory in downtown Fort Worth disassembling clutch cores, worked for an insulation company in attics in the middle of the summer, and was a porter for an apartment complex.
During my time as a porter, I learned the about managing the most important asset in business, people. Usually, in life, you learn best from the negative experiences.
I cleaned toilets, fixed washer machines, scrubbed pools and each morning went around the complex with a plastic bag and a pooper scooper and removed the dog crap. It was a humbling experience as I watched the recent grads leave in their Miatas for their gigs in Dallas. As I was doing inspections with the manager one afternoon, she reached down into a pile of green moss and picked up a small piece of trash and then proceeded to her hands off on me. I never felt lower, but I may have never learned more. One thing for certain, whether literally or figuratively, I would never wipe my hands off on a fellow coworker.
Since 1987 I have had the great fortune of knowing my wife Danae. We were high school sweethearts and she is still my greatest treasure. She has challenged me, pushed me, taught me, and stood with me through the good, the bad, and the ugly. She is a determined person who rose out of the most difficult of circumstances in life and never looked back. I admire her tenacity.
We have two children Sarah and Don IV. They have both made parenting a breeze and joy and I am enjoying watching them grow.
The foundation of my family, my friends, and my career is faith. I hesitate to call it my faith as it is the faith of many. I have spent years of studying and searching the faiths of the world, or lack thereof, and have come to know the truth that Jesus Christ came to redeem us all. My faith is in his finished work on the cross and resurrection. This heart and intellectual Gospel is the window to my worldview.
In addition to family and work, I enjoy my friendships. I started a group called The May Club back in 1995. Every year in May my friends and I go on an adventure for 5 days. Over the last 16 years over 100 men have attended. While everyone can’t make it every year, no one wants to miss it. It has taught me the value of working through life with others.
As an avid outdoorsman, I enjoy: climbing, hiking, whitewater kayaking, sea kayaking, fishing, hunting, and the list goes on. If I am not working I want to be outside.
My family and I love to travel and over the years we have seen some incredible things together. We’ve climbed Half Dome in Yosemite, hike the mountains of Southern Germany, climbed the stairs of Prague, drank café in Paris, and seen many other parts of the US, Europe and Asia.
I was on the Board of Directors for European Initiative www.einews.org from 2009 – 2011.
I am currently director of the 370 year old Port Royal Society.
We continue to promote and pursue an intellectual Gospel and a Gospel of Action.
I enjoy reading and discussion and I love to be challenged. Most of what I read does not support my belief system but challenges it. I covet friendships with people that don’t necessarily think like I do and I value those relationships more than gold.
When people ask me how I’m doing I generally answer, “Alive and kicking” or “I’m not bored yet.”