Lifestyle Personal Lines the Jan/Feb 2014 issue

Steve Needle, President, Employer Services, the McCart Group

I have a passion for it. Maybe the right term is sickness. It is not a job—it’s integrated into my life.
By Chris Hann Posted on January 28, 2014
Q
You were born and bred in Atlanta. What’s the business climate like there these days?
A
Atlanta is a great business town. It has a tremendous number of emerging companies, established companies, public companies, private companies—small, midsize and large. Georgia—Atlanta specifically—has so many business sectors that it’s really not affected by any one thing. Since the Olympics in 1996, the city really seems to have changed its culture.

How so?
The Olympics really showcased the city. Somewhere in there, our makeup of business changed. Half the professional athletes seem to live in Atlanta. I think we’re number two in the film industry. You’ve got Tyler Perry’s new studio going up, which is a multi-zillion dollar studio. Every major business competitor is here—Aon, Willis, Lockton, Mercer, Marsh, Mack, J. Smith Lanier, Gallagher, McGriff, Wells Fargo. The list just goes on and on.

Tell me a little about your business.
We’re privately held, with about 110 employees. We have several shareholders, including myself. We tend not to be concentrated in any one thing. We have probably one of the strongest loss control divisions in the South. We have a unique co-sourcing division, which deals with the benefits administration and payroll needs of our clients. I am extremely jazzed to be a part of such a dynamic management team and exceptional staff.

What’s kept you in the business?
I have a passion for it. Maybe the right term is sickness. It is not a job—it’s integrated into my life. There are vacations, but there are no turn-off-everything-and-I’ll-talk-to-you-in-a-week moments. Taking care of clients, whether they know it or not, is something I get a kick out of. I love to take somebody who loves to learn and mentor them and watch them grow. This business gives great opportunity for that.

Has that been the emphasis of the McCart Group?
I think so. It started with a great family foundation. Some people run a company for a lifestyle or to maximize income or whatever else. We run it as a way of life.

Do you have a favorite insurance joke?
Yes: “I’m on my way home.”

Are you sure you want your wife to read that?
I have a lot of fun with what I do. I don’t take myself very seriously, but I take my job very seriously. I would say I’m a B personality in a double-A job.

What does your perfect weekend look like?
Sitting on my porch looking out at the water at Lake Lanier, north of Atlanta. I have three children—they’re 27, 24 and 17. One is a private contractor for the military. When he’s in the States, I enjoy spending time outdoors with him. The middle one loves playing golf. Our daughter, we love watching her excel with horses. I really enjoy spending time with my wife of all these years. We have, fortunately, a lot of common interests.

What are those common interests?
We’re very family-oriented. We love to create an environment where the kids love to come back home.

What’s your favorite place to visit?
Probably the Caymans or St. Bart’s. We also traded in Christmas gift-giving a couple years ago for skiing. We trade in presents for a week in Montana or Colorado, where we spend the same time and money but enjoy each other’s company. Instead of trading presents, we’re trading memories.

Does your family have pets?
We are a rescue family, so we’re a family of misfits. We have five dogs, one cat and two rescue horses. The horses don’t live with us yet, but my daughter takes care of them. We have a lot of love in our family and a lot of passion for animals.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I do a lot of public speaking and a lot of presentations in front of various crowds—CEO meetings, CFO meetings, other seminars. Most people would think you really like that and it’s almost a high. But most people really never lose that fear about public speaking. After all these years, you still have to imagine them in their underwear to get your mind relaxed.

What business leader—in any industry—do you most admire?
Probably Warren Buffett. He’s a long-term successful person who still lives in a modest house in a modest city when he could lead the most glamorous life in the world.

What have you learned that you pass on to others?
Leading by example and always trying to do the right thing when no one’s looking.

What gives you your leader’s edge in this industry?
The true edge is in caring about the outcome and enjoying the journey, versus looking for the end of the journey. The other part is investing in myself, investing in our employees and investing in our company. I think not everyone takes the time to do that.

The Needle File

Age: 50
Hometown: Atlanta
Family: Wife, Renee. Children: Matthew, 27, a former marine now working in private security in Iraq; Andrew, 24, a student at Georgia Gwinnett College; Claire, 17, a senior at Lambert High School
Last movie: “Skyfall.” “I go back to the first 007, where we would sit in our car at the drive-in movies. My father created a tradition of 007 movies since I was five years old.”
Wheels: Ford 150 pickup truck and Mercedes E sedan

Chris Hann Associate Editor Read More

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