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2015 40 Under 40 Broker Awards: Danny Simmerman

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Chief operating officer

Alamo Insurance Group, a unit of Brown & Brown Inc.

Age: 39

For Danny Simmerman, it was baptism by fire: Within two years of entering the property/casualty insurance industry in Florida, four hurricanes crisscrossed his home state.

By then — 2004 — Mr. Simmerman had jumped from a budding accounting career at Arthur Andersen L.L.P. to his first insurance industry post at Brown & Brown Inc. After the storm, he went to the brokerage's Punta Gorda, Florida, office, which itself had been decimated by Hurricane Charley.

“It was right where the eye hit,” he said from his current office in San Antonio, where he is chief operating officer for Brown & Brown's Alamo Insurance Group unit. “They sent me to clean up the office and get things back to where they were prestorm. Of the 2,500 customers, there were 2,200 claims in Punta Gorda alone in 2004.”

Mr. Simmerman said it was his ability to cultivate relationships that helped him soar as a young executive at Brown & Brown, which relocated him six times between the states of Florida, Tennessee and Texas.

“I've always been someone who is cognizant of getting back to people and responding, reaching out to people,” he said “It doesn't mean I will have a right answer all the time, but I do reach out.”

Roy Bridges of Fort Myers, Florida, who recently retired from Brown & Brown as a regional president and worked with Mr. Simmerman for eight years, called the young executive a “superstar.”

Mr. Simmerman sees himself continuing with Brown & Brown and bringing more like-minded people into the field. “The most fun part of my job is the recruiting and training aspect,” he said. “I like bringing new people into our operation, helping train them.”