Selling Security and Community Spirit
Alan Meltzer’s rise in the insurance industry began when a pretty girl named Amy walked into a bar.
The bar was Mr. Henry’s, in DC’s Tenley Circle neighborhood, and Meltzer was its owner. He had come to Washington in 1969 to attend American University and spent his college years doing nothing but studying, working, and wrestling. He had scraped together $13,000, borrowed some money from his family, and taken out a loan to buy the bar with a couple of buddies.
The group went on to buy more bars. Meltzer bought out his partners and by the early ’70s was sole owner when Amy walked into Mr. Henry’s. He tried to pick her up, but she wanted no part of the bar scene or of Meltzer. “I attempted to make the best sale of my life,” Meltzer says.
Amy worked for MassMutual Insurance Company, and Meltzer joined her there in 1978. Four years later, he started his own insurance and financial-services company. He has retained his relationship with MassMutual—and been named agent of the year 18 times. He has also retained his relationship with Amy: They married in 1978 and have four children.
Today the Meltzer Group has divisions offering life insurance, employee-benefits programs, financial management, and estate-planning services for clients that include Fortune 500 companies. But Meltzer is still selling. “I wake up every morning at 4:15, work out, then get to the office,” he says. “You try to outwork everyone else.”
Meltzer also beats the competition when it comes to philanthropy. He serves on local nonprofit boards, including that of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and has made a major gift to Children’s National Medical Center for construction of a diabetes wing. The Meltzer Family Foundation and the Meltzer Group contributed more than $1.07 million to some 200 local charities in 2009.
“My wife and I didn’t come from much,” Alan Meltzer says. “We owe it to the community to give back.”
Next: Joseph E. Robert Jr.