George Najmy once thought he'd be a banker for life.
Now the banker-turned-entrepreneur is on his second non-banking business venture in two years. The latest iteration: Najmy recently bought an Allstate insurance franchise in Manatee County.
Insurance is much closer to banking than retail health care, Najmy's previous business. Najmy bought Family Healthcare Supply in Sarasota in late 2009, nearly two years after he left his position as CEO of Bradenton-based First Priority Bank. State and federal regulators shuttered the $260 million bank in August 2009.
Najmy was invigorated by the fast pace of a retail business at Family Healthcare Supply. Getting out of banking was also good for Najmy's health, proven by the 15 pounds he lost at his new gig. (See Business Review, April 9, 2009.)
Still, Najmy listened when a competitor, the owner of Venice-based Medical Department Store, called about selling in 2010. And after a series of increased offers, Najmy ultimately sold the store.
A few bankers called Najmy to see if he wanted back in the business. But he never let the conversations get to the interview stage. Najmy instead wants to grow an insurance business. The Allstate franchise he bought has 3,500 policies, mostly in Manatee and Sarasota counties. There are four employees.
“It's definitely a hands-on business,” Najmy says. “There is a churn out there. People are constantly looking for the best rate.”
Najmy doesn't want to look back when it comes to banking, but that's not always possible. He was recently mentioned in a detailed story in the Sarasota Hereald-Tribune regarding the First Priority failure and his role in it.
Najmy declined to address specific allegations that he and fellow board members made inappropriate loans to one of the board members' business. Najmy says he has spoken with regulators every few months since the bank failed. “As with any other bank,” says Najmy, “we are going through the process with the FDIC.”