Peter Joniec and Gene Nussbaum
A niche-focused recruiting firm fulfilling the staffing needs of the insurance industry
Gene Nussbaum and Peter Joniec are the founders of The Jonus Group. Based in the Mid-Atlantic region, The Jonus Group specializes in recruiting for the insurance industry, connecting carriers, agencies, brokers, wholesalers, and other kinds of insurance companies with qualified, motivated candidates when they need them. Gene is seasoned insurance and recruiting expert with close to 30 years in the industry. Peter is United States Navy veteran who began his career as an insurance recruiter in 2007. The company’s name is a portmanteau of the two men’s last names.
EDWIN WARFIELD: Why does the insurance industry need a specialized recruiting approach?
PETER JONIEC: There’s always been a problem in the insurance marketplace with attracting new talent, because as you grow up—”I want to be a doctor, I want to be a lawyer, I want to be a firefighter”—No one really grows up and says, “I want to be an insurance underwriter or claims adjuster,” because they really don’t know what insurance has to offer. I fell into it simply by talking to a guidance counselor who said, “Hey, why don’t you look at risk management?” And then from there I went into the program. That’s how I got into the program. Typically what you find is a lot of people fall into it one way or another—stumble into insurance or pulled into it by a friend. The insurance industry as a whole has always had a little bit of an issue attracting new talent as people are coming out of school, so to speak. You mix that with the fact that yes, the baby boomers are all exiting the market at a rapid pace, and what you see in this market, as well as we know with other markets, there’s a shortage of talent.
GENE NUSSBAUM: The shortage of talent is what has helped us grow the company. We came in just at the right time. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve been doing insurance recruiting since 1987 so I went through the recession of 1991, the recession of 2001, and the really big recession of 2008. In 2008, there was less training of new insurance people, so five years later there are people leaving the industry and you got people not coming into the industry. Our clients are just screaming for people and they just cannot find qualified people, and they’re actually sacrificing some of their demands to hire people at higher prices. It is keeping us very busy—it’s just a perfect storm in the industry of lack of talent and lack of people coming into the field.
Q. Do you help place temps?
A. Interestingly, we actually just moved into temporary recruitment, which is a whole new arena for us, which is nice in case we ever go into recession, because that’s when temporary employment goes up. We’re also looking at new verticals.
Q. Where do you see the company in 5 years?
PETER JONIEC: We’ve continued to expand. One thing we do is we do not put any restrictions on where our recruiters can operate. If they want to recruit people in Boston and Atlanta, in Illinois—wherever they want—we allow them to have the freedom to do so. Some firms have a restriction—“we only do this market or that market”—but we don’t like that because we like to see people obtain their own clients, obtain their own network, build that out and really take hold of it.
We’ve found that allowing them to go into whatever market they want has opened that up, so in five years we’d love to be nationwide—completely nationwide. Ideally, that would be a goal of ours from starting the company: we want to be a premier insurance recruiting firm that services clients throughout the United States. But on top of that, yes, we have started a temporary staffing division, which has proven to be a very nice compliment to our contingency staffing division, which is what we primarily do; and then we would also look to build out different verticals as Gene mentioned in different sectors, whether it’s accounting and finance, engineering and manufacturing, IT, healthcare, or whatever other vertical might present an opportunity.
GENE NUSSBAUM: Basically, as we see talent out there for us, it will point us in the direction that we end up going.
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ABOUT NEWMARK GRUBB KNIGHT FRANK
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