Welcome to the Inside Insight podcast presented by CR Solutions. At Consolidated Risk Solutions, we are taking our expert knowledge of the insurance world and using it to innovate the industry using technology, groundbreaking thinking and a personal touch. Join us as we talk to masterminds both inside and outside of CR Solutions about how the world of insurance is changing, and how we can be sure to grow along with it. If you have to manage insurance in your work, then you can benefit from the interviews, conversations and insights we’ll be exploring to elevate your business’s success.
INTRO (00:42 – 05:28)
Trevor Casey: We’re back, baby.
Beau Lunceford: Trevor, I’m so glad to be here. I feel like you and I have not gotten a chance to sit down and talk about some cool insurance things in a hot minute. And so I am glad that we’re here.
Trevor Casey: I know, welcome back. And it’s a busy season for everyone.
Beau Lunceford: No hitting renewals, and just innovation happening right now. There’s conferences going on. It is one thing after another.
Trevor Casey: Crazy times, crazy times. But thankfully, we were joined by our good friend, Andrew Masciantonio over at SML this week, and he brought us some knowledge bombs of The Risk Advisor.
Beau Lunceford: The Risk Advisory sector, I’m going to say that with a lot of competence, and let that just be what it is.
Trevor Casey: We had Andrew here. And he came and talked to us about risk management, checking out sites, premium audits, he just kind of briefly touched on the premium audits, but mostly about site visits.
Beau Lunceford: That’s a great segue, though, and preparing people for as we had this conversation with Andrew, that we ended up deciding it was going to be a two part conversation because they, as a whole do so much with site safety and with premium audits, and we didn’t want to overload the episode or the conversation. So we decided the first half this conversation here that you’re going to hear today is all about the job site safety, all about how it is that people can be auditing their safety practices to make sure that they’re doing the best things for both their workers and for their projects as a whole.
Trevor Casey: Absolutely. I mean, it’s one of the things that people don’t really always think about is that, or they may think that those people and Andrew talks about it are not their friend, the people who are actually on site taking pictures with oop, they’re not really always there to actually make sure that the job is running smoothly, and that the owner is finishing on time and within budget. So it’s really interesting to see the other side of the coin coming from the person who’s actually on site doing those site visits, and not just a subcontractor or a GC, who feels like these people are my enemy. I run for the hills when I see them come on site.
Beau Lunceford: And I really hope that this conversation helps people to move more towards that way of thinking of seeing that when you have safety people on site, they are there to help you primarily. It’s not going to feel like that in the beginning I think for a lot of people, because it does usually mean, “Hey, you need to invest more in training or in this kind of safety equipment or that you need to do things the right way so that people stay safe.” But the reality is that this is super helpful. This is beneficial to all the people who are working physically boots on the ground on the project, as well as the people who have invested in it in some way.
Trevor Casey: I mean, at the end of the day, like building the project is great. But everybody going home and going home safely is really ultimately the end goal. So seeing somebody who actually cares about that and takes the time to see like, “You’re standing someplace you shouldn’t be or you’re hooked off, whatever, it may be” somebody who actually takes the time and says, “Listen, let’s rethink this.” Not necessarily, let’s find you for it or whatever.
Beau Lunceford: And I think you hear a lot of that passion for safety and for those elements in our conversation with Andrew. So Trevor, give us a little bit of a bio, a little run around for who Andrew is and who SML is.
Trevor Casey: So, Andrew Masciantonio, went to Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Did not know that was a thing, but it is. And he has a bachelor’s degree in safety sciences. So right out of there, he went to Allied North America worked with them for a little while, skirted over to Aon Risk Services.
Beau Lunceford: Because Aon bought them.
Trevor Casey: Because Aon bought them, correct. And did some work with Aon and it’s specifically with Lend Lease. And then he went his separate ways and started SML Capital Advisors. SML has been around since 2013. They are a risk mitigation specialist so they do site safety visits. And as we talked about those premium audit services for construction sites or insurance as a whole. SML Capital Advisors is a national leader specializing in construction risk management, loss control and premium audits services partnering with insurance carriers, brokers, owners, developers, general contractors and etc to provide the most comprehensive and specialized services in the industry. The SML team brings decades of combined experience and has partnered with some of the largest construction companies and insurance service providers in the industry. We’re super excited to have Andrew here today. Furthermore, should we get into it?
Beau Lunceford: I think we should.
Trevor Casey: Let’s do it.
Interview (05:30 – 29:48)
Trevor Casey: All right, welcome back, everybody to the Inside Insight podcast. We’re here with Andrew Masciantonio from SML Capital Advisors. What’s going on, Andrew? How are you?
Andrew Masciantonio: How are you doing, fellas? Good.
Trevor Casey: So, Andrew, give the people a little rundown about yourself. Give us a little bit of where do you come from? How’d you end up SML and an elevator pitch of what SML is? And then we’ll kind of dive in a little bit after that.
Andrew Masciantonio: Sure. So I have a degree in Safety Engineering. I went to Indiana University of Pennsylvania, it’s a small school and middle of Pennsylvania. They offer a degree in Safety Engineering, very rare, not a lot of schools offer it. I moved to New York City in early 2000s and immediately started working for an insurance broker. When I got there was Allied North America small privately owned broker out on Long Island and I started learning the loss control side of the industry. Right off the back it was kind of like getting thrown to the wolves being in New York City so it wasn’t easy at all, especially young guy in the construction world when you’re safe your loss control safety representative, not many people want to see you. So you kind of learn Trial by Fire, served a lot of construction books for all different type practice programs, Wrap-Ups, GL Comp, I stayed with Allied for about eight years, I believe. They were bought out by Aon. At that time, I was servicing Bovis Lend Lease, their large global GC construction management firm. I was overseeing their whole Wrap-Up division, loss control CCIP. So they had a nationwide national CCIP account. This was early on, and they kind of had the trick of safety was starting to become a thing. Like, back in the day, you could see the guys eating on skyscrapers having lunch, sitting on the beams with no harnesses are nothing. So safety wasn’t that important back then in the 80s OSHA started and it started to become important, but from a loss control, and when you can offer that person as a part of your insurance. And early on the company, I worked that they were smart, they did that, and that’s how I met with Lend Lease. I worked with them full time overseeing their national CCIP account. So it was jobs all throughout the country, I was just traveling around visiting all these jobs, high rise jobs. And when Aon bought out the company, Lend Lease did not want to, they want to work with a small privately owned broker. Like they like to unbundle stuff, just like I said, how I got in that situation. They didn’t want to work with the big brokers of the world. So that’s when Lend Lease came and asked if I would break away from eon and kind of go with them and that’s when we started SML. Ever since then, it’s been a challenge just growing it. We’re at a point now where I’m very confident to say, we offer loss control risk management services, premium audit services for the insurance industry, a lot of carriers brokers, MGU’s, MGA’s, some contractor, owner, developers, so we have our hands on a lot of different stuff. Mainly, it’s the loss control risk management, and premium audit services is what we specialize in. But there’s really, our competition is, I don’t feel like we have any anymore. We did for the last 10-15 years building this. We did have competition. And, like I said, safety was kind of newer, so a lot of people that were forced to get into safety or loss control. They were foreman for a contractor or some kind of position and they were just thrown into a safety role. So a lot of older generation people and we did the opposite. We have a lot of young hungry like yourselves, like myself guys that want to work are not afraid to travel. And what I learned early on in New York City is, no one really wants to see the loss control safety guy. So how do you get them to want to work with, you want to see and it’s simple, it’s caring about what you do, providing a good product, not just going out to justify your existence. I’m going to go out and I see a guardrail is down 50-stories high in the middle of New York City, I’m going to take a picture and write a recommendation down and you’re not helping anyone by doing that.
Trevor Casey: So when you’re talking loss control and going on site, is that mostly what you’re doing is you’re looking for things that you deem a safety concern, and you’re documenting it? And who are you giving that information to or what is involved with the loss control on your side of things?
Andrew Masciantonio: That’s a good question, Trevor. It really starts at the beginning. A lot of insurance companies just for the example say, we’re working with a care insurance carrier that with the majority of our clients, usually our carriers. Some of them we help before they write an account, like they will go through a pre bound risk assessment. So at SML here’s all the information on this account, we’re thinking about writing them for their practice program, or they have a job specific Wrap-Up program, whatever, and we get the information. We dig into the last run. Julie have a call with the client, and we give them advice that way. Yes, we think you should write them. No, we don’t. Yes, but you should be careful. They have a lot of accidents trending this way and that way. So we could get involved very early on that. Otherwise, we’re going out during the policy period, as each account is written. So the majority of our clients, we serve as their construction book. We also do property environmental, but the main focus is construction, we’re going out and looking at their clients operations, the insurance operations, but the thing most importantly is, everyone has the same goal, like no matter who is, the broker, the carrier, they insured us. And the main goal is everyone goes home safe, no accidents, you get the job done. You get it done as quickly as possible, but as safely as possible.
Trevor Casey: When you’re talking about these recommendations that you’re having, who are you giving those recommendations to? And what kind of recommendations are they? Is it training? Is it classes? Is it maybe try this contractor over this contractor? Like, what is it a recommendation from you guys look like?
Andrew Masciantonio: Nowadays, like I said, what separates us from other people is that caring aspect, caring about what you do. A lot of insurance loss control people, they’ll just go out and they’ll look for to make recommendations and write recommendations. Anyone can go on a job site in the middle of New York City, if you’re a safety professional and easily find and write 20 recommendations down but that’s not what our goal is. And you embarrassed the insured, you embarrassed, a lot of people see our report. So, like I said, we see something, if we see a guardrail down 50 stories in the air. It’s not, “Hey, fix that guardrail, I’m going to take a picture put in my report.” Usually the consultant gets all excited, not ours, but our competition, I’m talking. I found a really good hazard, they’re going to get them in trouble the insurer and we don’t work like that. It’s more guys, this is a very severe hazard could lead to a fatality, it could lead to much worse public fatalities. And you have the whole side of the building open 50-storeys up, let’s figure out how we got here. Who’s in charge of maintaining that guardrail system, who’s in charge of putting it up? Who was working there that could have took it down and when I work with the team on a field level, the insurer to actually help them, dig down to the root cause of why was that guardrail down, and you still have 30 more stories to go, how do we prevent that from happening again? Instead of just a recommendation, take a picture, go right at down, send a report out which is kind of the old school way and it kind of gave us loss control professionals a bad name.
Trevor Casey: So you’re the friend and part of the team, you’re not the enemy anymore.
Andrew Masciantonio: We take that attitude, we know they’re not going to want to see us at first. That’s just typical loss control guys. You know, a lot of people don’t want to see you. But we go out and let them know like, we’re on the same team. We all have the same goals and just help them, provide them whatever they need.
Beau Lunceford: If so speaking of help, what would you say is one of the, a couple of off the top of your head, top risks that you see whenever you’re coming into assess a job site?
Andrew Masciantonio: A good question, I would say, fall protection is always an issue. Trip and fall from the same level, which is also a big housekeeping thing. People say housekeeping, it’s cleaning up after yourselves. It’s not a big issue. But it really is, especially in New York. I mean, we’re a national company, but we specialize and we’re out of New York City. When you have laws like New York City labor law, which is anything gravity related, someone trips or falls on a piece of rebar or falls off a ladder trips on a piece of wood, anything, trip fall, anything gravity related, you’re going to get sued, they can see your comp, they can see your GL, it’s a mess. So fall protection falls from the same level. Housekeeping, and one of the biggest things is soft tissue injuries which are sprains, strains, things like that. And what’s unfortunate is the economy we’re in right now, there’s a lot of fraudulent claims, and they’re very hard to prove. And when you’re working for a big client, people say, “I hurt my back towards the end of the job”. A lot of the times, they’re just gonna pay the person instead of go the legal route, because it’s going to cost them more money anyways. So we try to help our clients, all of our insurers and our clients do as much due diligence as they can up front to prevent those claims and fraudulent claims, real claims with soft tissue injuries, stretch and flex programs are things that we’ve done, putting in place based off what they’re doing. Are they concrete contractor, electrician, so I think it’d be going overhead bending over? So stretches created based off what body parts they use, are they constantly bending, ergonomics, and things like that. So it does get really deep. That’s why, it’s very rare that we do finding a loss control professional is a lot harder than just finding a normal safety guy. Because you have to understand the insurance side of things, and you have to be doing it. You can’t just overnight turn into one because you have to understand the trends and you have to see it, you have to review those loss runs under hundreds of pages long. And you learn a lot, it’s you’re building a building, it’s doesn’t really change. They used to do wood frame buildings, they still do those. But as far as they’re mostly concrete cast in place. They have newer form systems, which makes things easier, but a building’s a building. So the hazards don’t really change that much. So just knowing, understanding and seeing the times evolve, there’s always new machinery, products, tools out there to make things safer. And that’s another thing we bring to the table. We touch so many clients, you see so much stuff. The way you build a New York is totally different than they build in Chicago. They don’t have rebar in Chicago, they have post tension cable, it’s called PT cable. So the way they build out there is totally different than New York to California. So the more you’re out there, you see things and you take those ideas to other clients. And it just makes you and your team more valuable. And being able to teach our guys and our team that stuff. That’s what makes us, I feel like we are the best and we don’t have the competition I was talking about earlier.
Beau Lunceford: So you take some of these ideas and these different safety things that you see on other in other states and other job sites, to clients that you have. Do you find that you kind of develop a little bit of a list of subcontractors and professionals that you end up able to suggest whenever carriers have questions about, we’re going into this job, who do you suggest bringing, who’s doing the best kind of safe work here?
Andrew Masciantonio: Now that’s a really good question. And that goes to your pre-qualification and things like that, especially a good example was one of our clients, they do GL only Wrap-Ups. You guys know what those are! They wrote a couple 100 the first year, and they start using the same contractors who then start using the same subcontractors all the time. And then you start seeing the trends, these guys there we know they’re solely using them, because they’re the cheapest subcontractor, but they also have the highest claim percentage in the program, or you just see trends like that and you make note and tell your clients like, that what you said, that’s what separates us from our competition is doing that extra work to review the losses, dig down into, who are the subcontractor, second, third, fourth tier, that are really causing these problems, and it goes back exactly how SML works with you guys, because the systems you have a dig down, you get this information. Like working with you guys, and partnering with you guys gives us that readily accessible data to kind of look at and dig down and find these trends a lot easier than it would be for us to do on our own, it would take a lot more time. So the systems you guys have it really helps us kind of take our service to the next level.
Beau Lunceford: But it sounds like y’all are also just willing to put in the work that it takes to get down to those brass tacks of like, who is functional on a jobsite and who’s not, who has a consistency or a consistent record of doing good and safe work and who doesn’t, and being able to report that back to your clients?
Andrew Masciantonio: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, if you don’t, then there’s no point doing what we do. That’s our value to our client. They pay for our service to do that. We’re loss control risk management professionals, you manage the risk as best as you can. They’re writing accounts that we’re telling them are good, or you should write them, they’re a good account. And they’re having accidents left and right, of course, there’s always an anomaly. You know what I mean, someone gets hurt, something falls, somebody even does something malicious, like throw something off a building, it happens disgruntled employees, stuff like that happens. But 99% of the time, if you dig down and look at the data, and look how that client has performed in the past, the contractors they use, their pre-qualification systems, their internal programs, QA, QC, health and safety, they’re implementing all these programs. And we can comfortably say, “This is going to be a good insured, and then you have to do your due diligence after the fact as well.” And that is, like you said, digging down into what is working, what’s not working. And that’s another thing with the economy right now is, we’re seeing a lot of newer subcontractors that say, it’s like a single plumber that lives in New Jersey, or PA that just got awarded a job in New York, that’s really suspicious. It’s a one man shop, they’re winning because they’re the lowest bidder, and they have some kind of qualifications for them to be approved. But we’re catching stuff like that more and more because the economy isn’t that great right now. So people are trying to use cheaper labor, because products are more expensive, everything is more expensive right now, and it costs more money to build. So everyone’s cutting costs where they can, and unfortunately, it goes sometimes to your second, third tier subcontractors, and that’s the value we add. Again, is finding that and knowing that stuff and bring it to our insurance attention. And then they, like you said, can write that company down or that owner developer, subcontractor. So down the road, when they see them, they’re like, “Ah, I remember SML brought these guys to me.” They’re using cheap labor, they themselves had a ton of claims, or near misses lots of recommendations, but didn’t have claims. So there’s probably a claim coming up, it’s like the law of large numbers where the more data you get, the more accurate your outcome is going to be.
Beau Lunceford: I have talked about how you’ve got this team of people who are really committed to doing the work to keeping people safe to looking for this kind of material out in the world. Tell me a little bit about where your team has come from and how you’ve kind of pulled them together into such a well-functioning machine?
Andrew Masciantonio: That is a very, very good question, a very hard to answer question, but I guess it’s taken 15 years.
Beau Lunceford: One of the thought process that I also have is I’m thinking about your background, and I’m thinking about when people go and they get these degrees in risk management and in safety is the work that SML is doing, the kind of people and the kind of place that these degree haver’s end up.
Andrew Masciantonio: It’s a really good question. And honestly, that has been the most challenging part of owning a company running a company is finding good people. I mean, it’s taken us 15 years to get where we are today and we have such an amazing team right now, I wouldn’t trade them for a world for anyone in the world. I have two three partners that I wouldn’t, I would rather have two three guys that are on the same page as you trust them, you work with them, they’re like family, over 50 guys that just like working, enjoy working, but you can’t trust them, you don’t know what they’re going to do tomorrow. So having that core group of guys in the executive level at the top, one, is amazing. And then, two, finding the soldiers out in the field. And it’s not just all I’ve been talking about is the safety, risk management, loss control. We also do premium audits for insurance carriers, which is a financial audit. It’s just as hard if not harder to find premium auditors as well. So we’ve just plugged away at it for 15 years.
Trevor Casey: So you’re hiring them, Andrew, or you looking for more people?
Andrew Masciantonio: We always hiring.
Beau Lunceford: So what is your ideal candidate look like? So my hope is always that people who are looking to get into the insurance world and into the risk management space, are some of the people that are listening to this. So what are you looking for? What do you heighten?
Andrew Masciantonio: I mean, the ideal candidate would be someone who is, one driven, wants to work wants to learn. Ideally, have some sort of background in safety, or construction safety Insurance, even a couple of years’ experience, not even a degree. But just if they have the will to drive and want to work and want to learn, I could turn them into whatever they want to be. The sky’s the limit for them, we can make that happen. We have the work, we have the clients. Our turnover rate is literally zero, even our 1099 our clients, we have a very, very low turnover rate. The people we work with, they do good and we feed them as much work as they want. Because it was so hard to find these people. So you learn to appreciate your workers. And they want to make a family and start a family and make a good life for themselves. They want to work hard, we will give them as much work as they want. We’ve probably fired 200 plus people.
Trevor Casey: So if somebody’s listening to this now. And they’re like, I feel like I have the drive, I have the desire, I have the wants to try this how did somebody reach out to you? Or on the flip side of that coin, if somebody’s interested in premium audit services or risk control, how do they reach out to you? And do you have any, resources available out there that they can download or what’s that look like?
Andrew Masciantonio: Sure. I mean, they can contact me personally or go to our website.
Beau Lunceford: We’ll put it in the show notes.
Andrew Masciantonio: Reach out to me directly. I mean, that’s how we’re hands on company, like I want to know who’s working for us, who’s touching talking to our clients. Like, there’s no tiered levels, you can be the newest guy in the company, and you’ll be talking to myself or Matt or Josh, my two right hand man at any time, we want to have a good working environment, trust these guys.
Beau Lunceford: But what about the people who are interested in some of the services or any kind of resources that you might have, where can we direct them?
Andrew Masciantonio: I mean to SML’s website, there’s links on there. Through HubSpot as well is another way. But I would say through our website would be the easiest and people interested in coming to do work or learn how to work with us. If they’re not in the industry, and they want to learn, there’s courses, there’s classes we have trainings, so there’s always a way to get in and if they really want to do it, we can make it work for them.
OUTRO (29:50 – 34:02)
Beau Lunceford: I like Andrew so much. He is just such a cool guy. I’ve gotten to spend some quality time with him at some conferences and some different things like that, but getting to hear him talk about and hear for real, his passion for what he does. And the kind of work that SML is working on right now, it just makes me excited for the future.
Trevor Casey: Absolutely. I mean, you can tell his passion as he just talks and talks and talks.
Beau Lunceford: We cannot relate to that anyway.
Trevor Casey: I mean, he really is, and he cares about the people that own these projects, the people who have their boots on the ground, as we’ve talked about, and he really wants to make sure that people see him as a friend, not as an enemy, really great conversation. I was as thankful to have him here.
Beau Lunceford: And I hope that people really see more now that this site safety work is for their benefit. Like you said, they see him and what SML does as more of a friendship as a support system as compared to, “The enemy coming on site too. Tell you that you need to do more things and pay more money,” which no one likes to hear.
Trevor Casey: Definitely. And what’s cool, too, is that this was only part of the conversation. We still have another conversation coming with additional people from SML to talk about those premium audit services. Andrew really specializes in that site safety visit side of things. So super cool to see the offerings that they have as a company.
Beau Lunceford: But I think this was a great introduction to SML. And getting people prepared for what it is they’re offering before we dive into the premium audit side of things, which I still think people are gonna be really excited to hear about.
Trevor Casey: Absolutely. It’s super important service comes with a lot of benefits for ownership, general contractors, insurers, carriers. So super cool, super cool, super cool. I found that I say that too much.
Beau Lunceford: You can super cool as much as you want to Trevor. Well, Andrew has given us all of his contact information. So that if there is anything that you guys want to know more about, if you want to find out more about what SML can do for your project, or what kind of services they offer generally, all that information is going to be included in the show notes for you to check out. Andrew says that he would love to hear from anybody who has any questions or wants to learn more. And of course, all the information that we talked about during our episode will be in the show notes as well.
Trevor Casey: Well, our great friend Andrew has let us know that he will be in Orlando at ARM. So if anybody is interested in learning more about SML wants to actually meet up with Andrew and talk shop, he’s happy to do so. Or if you just want to learn a little bit more about SML maybe get some handouts, he will be there as well and see your solution will also be there.
Beau Lunceford: Yes, we will. We will be doing a lot of hopping around to we got some events that we’re going to we’re going to have an innovation station booth that you’ll be able to come by and see us. There will be that information is in the show notes as well. We hope that if you guys are there, please come by and say hello. Trevor, and I will be there all week as well as Jennifer, our COO, Josh, our president, and as well as one of our AVPs over our CR-Certify product, Amy Lamb. She has an episode on this podcast as well, where you can hear a little bit more about her products and the things that CRS is doing in the insurance trucking world.
Trevor Casey: Yeah, come say, “Hi”. Grab a little bit of swag. I think we have some giveaways and things that we’ll be doing. So we’d love to hear from you meet you in person, see what your thoughts are on this podcast.
Beau Lunceford: All the good things, we don’t want any bad things.
Trevor Casey: Absolutely. And as always, if anybody feels that they have anything that they would like to discuss on this podcast, we are always happy to take –
Beau Lunceford: We love it.
Trevor Casey: -new guests and discuss your product, your service, your offerings, what you bring to the table.
Beau Lunceford: -what kind of ways you’re innovating the insurance world.
Trevor Casey: Absolutely. So hope to see you all soon. And with that, we’ll see you next time.
Beau & Trevor: Stay covered.
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