Lifestyle Personal Lines the September 2022 issue

Vinnie Hager, President, JGS Insurance, Holmdel, New Jersey

“I have no problem taking other people’s experience and adopting that for ourselves.”
By Chris Hann Posted on September 1, 2022
Q
I’m pretty sure you’re the first insurance executive I’ve interviewed who is also a licensed charter boat captain.
A
I really did it to get the knowledge and to understand what it is you’re looking at, to give you a better feel for the rules of the road, so to speak.

FAVORITE VACATION SPOT: The British Virgin Islands (“Anegada is probably my favorite island, because it’s off on its own.”)

FAVORITE ACTOR: Gary Oldman

FAVORITE JERSEY SHORE TOWN: Long Beach Township

FAVORITE JERSEY SHORE SEAFOOD RESTAURANT: Delaware Oyster House, Beach Haven (“Just really interesting food.”)

FAVORITE DISH AT DELAWARE OYSTER HOUSE: Crispy octopus

SPRINGSTEEN OR BON JOVI: Springsteen

Q
Who were your childhood heroes?
A
I have to go with my father and my mom. They had a great relationship. Those are two people I really respected as a kid. We had family dinner together every night at 5:30. Back in the day, we had the old phones, and you were not allowed to have any phone calls between 5:30 and 6:30. That was family time.
Q
Tell me about Hagerfest.
A
My family likes to get together once a year, all of my siblings, their spouses, and their kids. We all get together on Long Beach Island. We’ve been doing it every year since 2006. The kids—nieces and nephews—really get to spend time with one another. So as much as the parents like to be together, we also like to see the kids have that relationship as well.
Q
How many Hagers are we talking about?
A
Between nieces and nephews and girlfriends and boyfriends, I think we had 23 this year.
Q
Your dad was with JGS since you were young. Was there an expectation that you would join the business?
A
When I went to Villanova, I was going to go work on Wall Street, because that was what everybody did. So I spent my summers working at Salomon Brothers in the city. After my second summer there, I was looking around. The stock market had crashed. The guy I was working with was divorced. Another guy across from me was divorced. I would leave at seven o’clock at night, and they would still be there. I started thinking, you know, Dad was home every night at 5:30 or six o’clock.
Q
How long did you work with your dad?
A
About seven or eight years. To his credit, when he retired, he said, “I’m gonna walk out the door.” And he never came back. We could always go to him as a reference, but he would never intercede as to what we were doing.
Q
What was it like to work with your father? And what is it like to run a business with your brother?
A
At first, it was hard to be taken seriously when you’re saying, “Dad, Dad, Dad.” So early on, we decided he would be “Sam.” That just made it a little bit more palatable for folks in the office. Working with your brother is a whole different relationship. Ken runs the wholesale, and I defer to him for all things on that. I run the retail side, and he defers to me. It’s a different relationship being partners with him than it was being brothers with him growing up, that’s for sure.
Q
You’ve described your job title as “director of change.”
A
I’m smart enough to know that I don’t know it all and that there are a lot of smarter people out there. So I am constantly asking questions—how do you do this; what’s worked for you; what hasn’t worked for you. I have no problem taking other people’s experience and adopting that for ourselves.
Q
If you could change one thing about the insurance industry, what would it be?
A
We do a terrible job of identifying all the different opportunities within this industry to college-age students, or the industry, or other people in general.
Q
What three words would your co-workers use to describe your management style?
A
I think you said it earlier: director of change.
Q
Last question: What gives you your leader’s edge?
A
I’m very open to learning. I think my willingness to adopt and accept change has made us much more successful.
Chris Hann Associate Editor Read More

More in Lifestyle

Rotem Iram, Founder and CEO, At-Bay
Lifestyle Rotem Iram, Founder and CEO, At-Bay
“The truth is, I trust my people more than I trust myself. So I give them a lo...
Lifestyle Phil Collins
SIUs and creepy tin clowns—the colorful side of insurance.
Wanderlust: Australia  
Lifestyle Wanderlust: Australia  
Epic and vast, wild and wonderful, accessible and friendly. Australia has it all...