Broker Words—June 2022

It is my distinct pleasure to recognize here one of our industry’s perhaps unsung heroes, and my longtime dear friend, Ed Murray—this year’s recipient of the Billy Vogel Award bestowed by The Marketing Alliance at their recent spring meeting. The Billy Vogel Award is given annually to an individual working in the brokerage industry who possesses impressive business acumen, a sense of innovation and, above all, integrity.

After graduating with a degree in finance, Ed served as a combat veteran in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment known as “The Blackhorse” as an Artillery Forward Observer in Vietnam. An Artillery FO patrolled with infantry units and called in grid coordinates and artillery fire when under attack. An Artillery FO had to be extremely accurate in determining their own location and the location of the enemy or else terrible things could happen.

The start of Ed’s insurance career came after a brief stint in real estate, when he began working at Chubb Insurance. It didn’t take long to realize carrier life may not be a good fit, so his inner entrepreneur kicked in and he set out on his own, then ultimately teamed with Gordon Zuckerman to form Murray & Zuckerman, Inc., and set up shop in Schenectady, NY. Their vision was to have a general agency that serviced all four corners…of New York State.

Ed has been deeply involved in the National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies (NAILBA) serving as its chair and receiving the association’s highest honor, the Douglas Mooers Award for Excellence. Another former chair, Mooers Award recipient, and also longtime friend, Art Jetter, remembers, “Ed likes to give credit to others for NAILBA recovering from the financial issues in the late 90s, early 2000s. He doesn’t take any personal credit. However, when I was chair in 2000 and gave my swan song speech, I specifically recognized his incredible service as treasurer. I called him our ‘financial boy wonder.’ Without Ed understanding that the board had to stick to its guns on fiscal recovery, and rubbing our noses in it, there might not have been a recovery.”

Yet another former NAILBA chair, Mooers winner and good friend, Jack Dewald, adds, “I truly believe Ed has one of the best financial minds I’ve ever worked with. He understands practical application and simplifies complex issues. He runs circles around actuaries and carrier financial folks. Pretty much anything he has financial oversight of does well. He knows his strengths. He is a team player in every way, but his ‘old style’ would never allow him to succeed in a corporate world. He would last a minute max before pissing some hack off with his clarity and brevity.”

Introducing Ed as the Billy Vogel Award recipient, TMA President Tim Klusas said, “This year’s recipient is recognized for their business acumen, practical application, and ability to simplify complex issues. While I can’t possibly list all of this person’s contributions, it was this person’s resourcefulness, vision, innovative thinking, and above all integrity that got TMA off the ground in 1996. It was due to the persuasiveness that only a New York GA could provide.”

Ed’s daughter wanted to say this about his character, “You will never meet a man who more faithfully lives his values. He is a throwback to a more civil generation, and not just because he refuses to send or receive text messages (much to the chagrin of his daughters and grandchildren). He fulfills every obligation that he ever undertakes. He is self-made and self-reliant. His word is his bond, and everyone knows it. He is loyal. His dedication to the people in his life can be seen amongst family, childhood friends, and current colleagues. He has lived these values personally and throughout his career.”

I met Ed longer ago than I can remember, probably at a Sub Centers or NAILBA meeting, before he helped lay the groundwork for TMA. I found him to be welcoming, friendly, intensely loyal and a great fountain of knowledge about the brokerage business. Like many of us, Ed found it hard to deal with ignorance. At least in my case in the early years, the difference between Ed and many others was his unfailing willingness to work to chip away at my lack of knowledge and increase my understanding and appreciation of just how vital and honorable the brokerage business is.

Often the gruff humorist, in accepting the Billy Vogel Award his first exclamation was, “If I’d known I was going to receive this recognition I would have worn socks.” The brokerage industry is extremely fortunate to have Ed Murray as a champion, as am I to have him as a friend.[SPH]