SMITHTOWN, N.Y. — 2016 marks the 70th anniversary for Irving Weber Associates (IWA), an insurance firm that offers a signature program especially for dry cleaners.
In the early 1940s, the company’s namesake, Irving Weber, was a staff manager at the Prudential Life Insurance Company in New York. Limited to writing life insurance, he was anxious to expand his opportunities to better serve the needs of personal and commercial clients. Intrigued by the property and casualty business, Weber began to explore niche markets that he characterized as “depression-proof.”
In 1946, Weber was introduced to a group of dry cleaners. These men advised that they had just won a lawsuit against the City of New York permitting them to operate retail drycleaning plants there. The large wholesale cleaners had convinced politicians that wholesale receiving stations should be the only operations permitted (claiming that their operations were safer than retail dry cleaners).
Weber began to mold the first group insurance programs to be offered to dry cleaners throughout New York state.
As the cleaning industry grew, IWA found that it needed additional talent. In 1958, after working in his father-in-law’s drycleaning shop during the day, and attending night classes, Irv’s son, Dennis, came onboard. Dennis worked all positions in the firm, learning the principles of his father’s success, until he was officially named president of the firm in 1982, when Irv became chairman of the board.
The ’80s brought more change, with the third generation, Adam Weber, joining IWA. In 1986, having been exposed to every function within the office, from clerical to administration, he was the obvious choice for operations manager. After several years of overseeing a transition from a manual to automated system, Weber was named vice president in 1989. Today, he is company president.
IWA operates nationally, with its primary focus remaining on dry cleaning. It has expanded its programs for 2016 and beyond, including opening up a market for dry cleaners located closer to the coast (from Maine to the Gulf of Mexico); adding a special program for franchise owners to meet franchise requirements; updating quoting abilities online for both broker and drycleaner partners; implementing a more defined focus on customer service by shifting job responsibilities to free account executives to provide dedicated service to assigned policyholders and brokers; providing multi-policy discounts; and offering pay-as-you-go on workers’ compensation to limit the need for audits.