Presidential Life Corp., the Nyack-based insurer that has $3.6 billion in assets and about 100,000 policyholders, marked a significant management milestone this week.
Company founder Herbert Kurz, 89, the dominant figure at company since starting it 44 years ago with capital raised from a handful of private investors, stepped down this week from the day-to-day management responsibilities. While Kurz will remain as chairman, he has handed over the jobs of chief executive officer and president to Donald L. Barnes, 65.
Presidential Life, which does business in 49 states, said that the management transition was part of a sucession plan that has been in the works for more than a year.
“He will have my full support as Presidential moves onward and upward,” Kurz said in a written statement.
Barnes , a former educator, worked at several major companies after beginning his insurance career in 1974. In 1995, he joined Presidential Life Insurance Co. as chief marketing officer and senior vice president. He helped expand sales and asset growth while serving as executive vice president from 1999 to 2000 and president since 2000. Barnes also helped upgrade the company’s technology systems and started its first Internet site.
Barnes said his goals this year include growing company sales by 15 to 20 percent.
“What we would like to do going forward is continue to grow our capital but also grow our sales force,” Barnes said in a phone interview. “It is a real honor to have the opportunity to be the first CEO to follow the founder of the company. Herb has provided tremendous leadership.”
The company’s sales force includes 900 general agents and 13,000 independent brokers. Presidential Life has about 110 employees at its Nyack headquarters.
The economic slowdown could help boost sales of fixed annuities, a major product for Presidential Life, Barnes said.
“People are looking for safe, secure and simple products and that is what we specialize in,” Barnes said.
Earlier this week, Presidential Life reported a quarterly loss of 29 cents a share, down from a profit of 37 cents a share a year earlier. The company said the decline was largely due to a drop in net investment income.