AFG Turns 14!

photo 2 with edits

 

June 1st marks AFG’s 14 year anniversary as Michigan’s premier employee benefits agency! For the past 14 years, AFG has designed and implemented employee benefit packages for companies throughout the nation. What does it take to be successful in this market? I sat down with owner Dean Austin to learn more about what it means to be a business owner and his passion for helping people.

 

Tell me a little about yourself and your background.
I was originally born and raised in Massachusetts where I graduated from Western New England College. It wasn’t until 1989 that I relocated to Michigan to start working for Paul Revere Insurance Company, and I’ve been in the industry ever since. Hard to believe it’s been 25 years!

 

What hobbies do you take part in during your spare time?
I love spending time with my family, I have an amazing wife, Kathy, and four beautiful daughters; Amelia (9), Abby (11), Emma (12), and McKenzie (14). I try to lead a very active lifestyle, so I spend a lot of free time running, swimming, golfing, biking, and participating in triathlons. (Dean is competing in the 2014 Steelhead Half Iron Man this August in Benton Harbor, MI! Way to go Dean!)

 

Why did you decide to start your own benefit agency?
I saw a unique opportunity in the marketplace for a benefit agency that wasn’t just focused on providing quotes, but saw the need for a complete full service agency that would provide strategic benefit direction, total benefit administration, simple and easy to understand employee communication materials, and personal service to our clients.

 

What was the biggest lesson you learned from starting your own business?
Starting a business from the ground up is not for the faint of heart!

 

What advice would you give an entrepreneur if they were looking to start their own business?
Make sure you have a clear direction of markets you are going to serve. Most importantly, surround yourself with great people in every area of your business.

 

What are the company goals in the next 5-10 years?
We will make sure our primary business purpose remains unchanged, which is to service our clients and their employees. However, the landscape has changed and our client needs are rapidly changing, so we are instituting enhancements in our service model to keep pace. We are prepared for our clients’ needs and will do whatever it takes to be prepared for the future to best serve them.

 

What are the biggest accomplishments you’ve seen the company achieve?
With the healthcare changes in recent years, we’ve done a phenomenal job helping companies manage the healthcare monster, while still delivering optimal results.

 

How would you describe the culture at AFG?
I think our company culture defines what it is to be a team. We’ve got each other’s backs, especially in times of need. We inspire each other and we empower each other, every day. Our work environment is exciting and fun, even in light of the pressure that goes on behind the scenes. Our employees really demonstrate what it’s like to have grace under pressure. Above all, family comes first, so it’s important to work in an environment where you can find balance between the two.

 

What does a typical work day look like for you?
There’s no such thing as a typical work day (big grin). It’s usually pretty hectic and busy, but I try to talk to as many people in a day as I can to learn as much about them as possible.

 

Are there any key characteristics you look for in people who are potential new hires for the AFG team?
Positive attitude and work ethic is everything. You will never change someone’s attitude, but you can always train for aptitude!

 

Is there a motto or mantra you lead your life and/or your business by?
From the moment I wake up, I try do anything and everything I can to work hard for other people and to meet their needs. I try to make the very best decisions I can and assist other people in making the best decisions, and if you ask me how I am, my response always holds true, “Any better and it’d be a sin!”

 

 

2017-01-26T13:13:34-05:00 Behind the scenes at Austin|