Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, Jack McGraw grew up destined for an insurance career – his native city was a renowned regional insurance hub where many young natives tried to hack their way into a booming business. Celebrating his 87th birthday this December, McGraw has spent an impressive 70 years in the insurance industry, 64 of which have been in a full-time executive position.
McGraw’s illustrious career began in high school, when he took a job working for Central National Insurance Company. Since then, he has aided countless companies in opening up new offices, improving processes and spearheading innovative initiatives. Today, McGraw is responsible for the conception and growth of the McGraw Group of Affiliated Companies, in addition to being active on the board.
He credits his wife, Joan, with being the backbone of the business. “When I left as president of El Dorado and we decided to start our own general agency, I needed a good partner very quickly,” he says. “It turned out that partner was my own wife.” Looking ahead, McGraw hopes to see the industry grow with more family-owned, neighborhood businesses like his to balance out the major corporations.
Distilling his seven decades in the industry into a single lesson, McGraw says nurturing talent is key. “I have to believe that the management of people has to be the core of any good business,” he says. “You need to understand who is doing what so that you can create cohesion in the workplace. Hiring good employees and delegating tasks is crucial to consistency in business.”